Updated: Sep 15, 2020
How do you SAVE MONEY when you live paycheck to paycheck, and never take the time to look at your finances?
That was me for most of my life. I was terrific at paying my bills on time, but having any money leftover, or EXTRA money at the end of the week/month was next to impossible. In fact, I barely had enough to pay my bills every month because I never took the time to sit and really look at my finances, my expenses, my income, and budget accordingly. Everything went on the ol' credit card, which was a limitless source of money for things like going out, shopping, groceries, gifts, bar tabs, and anything else I could charge and NOT spend my precious cash on.
I thought I had a solid grip on money and my finances, because I always paid my bills on time, but the truth of the matter was, I was swimming in debt and had no idea how to get out.
Today, I'm sharing how I went from drowning in credit card debt to becoming debt-free with over $40,000 saved in about 3 years, with the swap of just ONE SINGLE daily habit! I'm also going to share a few tools you can begin implementing to help begin saving some money, no matter how small.
As I mentioned above, one daily swap helped me save over $40,000 and become free of credit card debt. Now, some of you reading this may think that seems ridiculous, but I promise, I will break this down step-by-step, because that's how I need things explained to me...so let's dive in!
Before 2017, I was a pretty regular drinker.
And before 2015, I was living the socialite big city life in Boston, which is, ahem, pretty daggon expensive.
Most nights after working at my restaurant job, I would unwind at the local bar with a few drinks and something to eat. My drink of choice was wine, unless I was feeling fancy AF and went with a bougee craft cocktail, which averaged about $14 a glass.
Let's pause right here and take a closer look at my spending:
Most night: 5 nights/week
Average drink cost :$14
Average amount of drinks: 3
Average snack cost:$10
$14 x 3 drinks = $42 + $10 snack = $52 + 20% tip and tax =$13 =$65 x 5 nights/ week= $325 a week
Now, this was an average, because of COURSE there were nights where I'd have waaaaay more drinks, waaaay more food, feel generous and pick up the entire bar tab....but for simplicity sake, let's stick with this example.
So to further illustrate JUST how much I was spending on drinking, let's take the $325 weekly average and see how it pans out per month/ per year:
$325/ week x 4 weeks = $1300/month x 12 months = $15,600/ year
NEVER EVER in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that I spent that much on just "going out for drinks", and I would've laughed in your face if you tried to tell me that I was spending over $1000/ month on booze. NO WAY would I have believed that...but it was true, and it was the one habit that was keeping me in debt- drinking alcohol.
Here's where the story turns around for the better!
After quitting drinking back in 2017, my money had an opportunity to go to other things besides my drinking habit. The $1300/month that I was spending was now able to be put towards my credit cards that carried the debt of my drinking, and this is where I became "smart" with my money.
Instead of all that money going towards nights out on the town, my credit card spending came to a halt.
I finally sat down and looked at all my credit cards, digested just how much debt I had accumulated and even more scary, how much I was paying towards the INTEREST to carry this debt, and came up with a plan:
I wanted to consolidate my debt with a low-interest loan, and free up my credit cards once and for all.
I found a loan that was around 9.9% interest, instead of the crippling 21-24% interest on my credit cards, and I took out the amount to pay off all my credit card debt.
I then took what I was normally paying each month on these credit cards, which was the minimum, and added about $500 towards each monthly payment. I didn't use the extra money on anything but clearing up this massive debt, and within a year and half of not drinking, in June of 2018, my entire debt was paid off!
Once the debt was paid off, I had myself a lil' celebration, because now, I could begin SAVING money, something I had never been able to do. There were a few things I did to begin using credit cards again, that was part of my saving money strategy:
- I designated my spending to ONE credit card, that was linked to points. This way, my money was earning me money or future savings on things that I purchased every day. So far, I have earned two round-trip airline tickets across the country, from CA to MA, along with multiple other perks like saving $5 each time I shopped small business or saving 25% at a participating store.
-I linked my credit card to Acorns, an intuitve investing app that would round-up my purchases to the nearest dollar, along with suggesting businesses to shop at that would invest more money into my Acorns account. For instance, if I went grocery shopping and spent $75.23, Acorns would round that total up to $76, investing the $0.77. Every time I fill up my gas tank at a Chevron gas station, $.025 is automatically invested.
If you would like to begin investing your future by rounding-up your purchases, I have a referral link through Acorns, where they will donate your first $5 once you follow a few simple steps (linking card(s) you make you purchases on, investing a few dollars within 30 days of sign-up...pretty easy!), and I'll get $5 invested into my account, too! Acorns does all the investing stuff FOR you, so you can sit back and watch your acorns grow into mighty oak trees! To get started on Acorns, sign up here
As I mention ALL throughout this blog, it is one tiny step each and every day that make the big changes in our lives for the better. By eliminating alcohol from my life, I was able to stop throwing so much money away, getting myself out of debt. I was able to get a handle on my finances, on my spending, and begin funneling my money into places where more money would be accumulated and saved.
I'm happy to report that the only outstanding debt I currently have is with my car, and this auto loan helps to keep my credit score healthy. My spending habits earn me points on my credit card, that gets paid off entirely each month, that allows me to purchase things without money. And while I spend money on my everyday things, I am automatically rounding up my spare change to invest in my future.
It can be done, and it starts with one small step. If you are looking to quit drinking and save some serious cash, but have failed every time you try to stop, let me introduce The Sober Handbook.
This is a 40-page digital download that I have created from my own journey to sobriety, that helps to guide you as you take a closer look to your relationship to alcohol, getting to the root of your drinking habit.
For more info on The Sober Handbook, click here.
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