Monday, February 20, 2012

10 ways to Eliminate Debt

It’s been a while since I have last updated. I have been busy with work, life and trying to keep up with all my social activities. I have barely had any time to attend meetings with my cooking club or my investing club lately. However, I was fortune enough to go to my investing club meeting this past Valentine’s day and I got some great advice from a guy who does credit counseling and helps students with massive graduate school get out of debt. He gave a wonderful lecture and told us ways to live frugally and simple ways to cut costs to pay back student debt. If you are a college graduate or a law school graduate with heavy student loans (over $100,000 in debt), there are some ways you can cut your expenses and find ways to save money to pay back student debt sooner than you think.

If you are overwhelmed with student debt, here are some ways you can drastically cut your costs and save money to pay back those massive student loans:

Tip # 1.     Move back in with your parents after college or law school.

I know that this is a total blow to personal freedoms, and it’s hard to move back home after you finish college and grad school. This tip applies mostly to single professionals, because if your parents let you live rent free, you can knock out a good chunk of student loans instead of paying rent. You can easily put an extra $1,000 or more towards student debt per month if you aren’t paying rent and you can live for free with the parents. I know it’s tough on the social life, but it would only be short term and it will help you save a fortune. The speaker said that one guy paid of $24,000 in loans by living rent free at home with parents, and he only made $55,000 a year. He put every penny towards student loans and they were gone in a year.

Tip # 2.      Only go shopping with Cash.

Whenever I go to the grocery store or drug store, I always bring cash. I will not bring more than maybe $50.00 in cash. If I want to buy more things and “splurge” it will force me to think twice, because I won’t have enough money to buy the things I want, but don’t necessarily need. I can't spend more money than I have, and it will help me save money and not splurge.

Tip # 3     Drive a good used car.

The best advice I ever got was to not have a car payment in my youth. Think about it, a car is a DEPRECIATING asset: You are paying principal and interest on something that is LOSING value. He told us that a good way to get money for a used car is to use your tax return (For example $4,000-5,000 dollars) and buy a used car, and drive it until its dead beyond repair. Good used cars are Toyota Corollas, Honda Accords, Civics, etc. You should shop around and find a low mileage used car with a CARFAX so you know your car is in good condition. By not having a car payment you will have another $300-500.00 a month in your pocket. You can use that money to pay back loans and other debt.

Tip #4    Cut unnecessary costs and little expenses

Do you really need all those catalogs in the mail? Do you need to spend a lot of money on expensive pet food and pampering your pet? Are you paying for premium gas, but do you need it? Check your cell phone bill, you may be paying for more than you really should. Double check your utility bills and bank statements.

Tip #5   Drop the Store Credit Cards.

Do you really need a dozen credit cards? It’s good to have a Visa, MasterCard and/or American Express but you don’t need credit cards for every store in the mall. Unless, you really use a store credit card, then you should really think twice. Yes, you should have credit cards for emergencies, but are there really any emergencies at luxury department stores? The half yearly sale at Nordstrom doesn’t count.

Tip #6   Change your eating habits!

A friend of mine recently decided to stop eating out completely, except for on the weekends. He brings his lunch to work every day and avoids eating out during the week. Of course, he may eat out here and there, but he tries to only eat out on weekends. He has more time and money to enjoy dinner with friends on the weekend, rather than spending so much on lunch. Another friend became a vegetarian because of his girlfriend, and saves money by not eating meat.

Tip #7     Don’t buy fancy brands for generic items.

To me, hand soap is hand soap. I don’t buy all the weird smelling fruity anti bacterial hand soaps and hand sanitizers you see in the mall. I only buy the general hand soap in a big gallon bottle, because it lasts forever. Also, I don’t buy expensive brands of generic goods: Bleach, some cleaners and detergents, dry spices, greeting cards, Milk, and toilet paper. There is really no difference in quality when it comes to generic goods, and you shouldn't pay more money.

Tip # 8       Find a  Second part time job.

If you are working 14-16 hour days, I know how hard it is just to find time to sleep and do laundry. It’s not easy, but if you have some time free in the evenings or weekends, then you should find another job. Get creative, maybe start a business? I used to work as a bouncer for a lesbian night club. The money was good and it was only 2 nights a week. Be creative, think of ways to make money.

Tip #9           During the holidays, ask for “productive presents” whenever you receive gifts.

You will likely receive a lot of presents for your Birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Wedding, or whenever. When people ask you want or what’s on your “wish list” think of things that you actually need. During my holiday party last year, we had a “Secret Santa” and my co workers thought I was crazy. Everyone asked for money, clothes, chocolates, etc., but I asked for a Costco membership. My Costco membership expires in December, so by getting a membership as a gift, I save money. It’s a productive present, because its something I know I will use for the whole year.

Tip #10        You need to get educated!

Find out more about personal finance from online websites and figure out ways to keep track of your expenses, and find out ways to cut your debt and new legislation regarding student debt and changes in student loans that you should be aware of. Some great websites are :

Wise Bread's motto is "Living large on a small budget," and its community of bloggers informs and advises readers on a variety of personal finance topics. This is a very resourceful site to learn more about managing your debt, credit cards, and how to live frugal.

This is a website that is devoted to helping you live debt free and they have an email they send out every day called “The Everyday Cheapskate” with tips and tricks to help you save money and life a fulfilling life, without excess debt and even include shopping tips and recipes.

The U.S. government has built a site to help assist and teach all Americans the basics about money, saving, getting out of debt, loans, and retirement. It’s a great resource to learn more about the personal finance and government resources that are available to you with up to date news information.

Well it’s late and I have to get up early tomorrow. I hope these great tips will help all of you save money and help you pay off those high interest loans faster than you think.
-The Poor Paralegal