A Straight Talk on Debt

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Making the Most with What You Already Have

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Frugal living is not about living cheaply. It is about choosing what is really important to you and saving your money for that! 

Get as much as you can for free and you can save thousands of dollars!   

After my husband and I retired, we soon came to the realization that our living and spending habits must change. Through trial and error and a little "out-of-the-box" thinking, little by little we changed our way of doing things and what a difference it has made in our lives! 

We don't feel we are doing without or that we are not enjoying life. Instead, choosing what is really important and saving our money for it has become an imaginative, fun challenge. We aren't living the life we had before retirement; we are enjoying a totally new way of thinking and living. 

Here are a few tips - they work for us and they'll work for you!

1. Barter for services when possible. For example, we exchanged lawn mower repair from our neighbor for a table (garage sale find) that he was looking for.

2. Learn to fix things for yourself. These days, with the Internet making information so easily available, you can fix most things yourself. We do 95% of the repairs around our house. We just keep looking for the information about how to do it and keep working until we get it fixed!

3. Stop eating out. This is one of the all-time best frugal living tips. I know you hear it all the time but STOP!!! The "average" family spends $300-$500 a month just eating out! Eating out truly is one of the biggest causes of debt! I am always amazed how someone can be "totally broke" and can't pay their bills but are still able to go to the drive-thru of their favorite restaurant.

4. If something breaks and you don't have the money to fix or if you are out of something and you don't have the money to buy more, figure out a way to live without it. If the lawn mower breaks, can you borrow a friend's lawn mower? If your washer breaks, go to the Laundromat. In most instances, you can find a way to make do or do without something until you have the cash saved up.

5. Do things for free. Go to the library, have a picnic or read a book. Kids are just as happy playing with mom and dad in the backyard as they are going to the zoo. If you can't pay cash for the "fun stuff" you can always have fun at home. Our grandchildren love to come to Pa-Pa's and Grammy's house because we actually spend "person" time with them. They actually love helping him in the garden and he has helped them plant a small garden of their very own.

6. Buy items used. We buy 90% of the items for ourselves used. Going to yard sales and thrift stores does not take any longer than going to a retail store but you can save 90% off the retail price!

7. Find a cheaper way to do things. Go to a beauty school to get your hair colored (or don't have your hair colored at all it isn't something you need to survive). Go to a mechanic school to get your car fixed. Hire a kid instead of a lawn service to mow your yard (only if you can't do it yourself for medical reasons. Paint your own house instead of hiring someone, cut the cable and the cell phone (gasp!), and have birthday parties at your house. There is almost always a cheaper way to do things so try to find the cheapest way and save some money!

8. Get it for free. Put your thinking cap on and figure out how you can get whatever you need for free rather than for money. We belong to a community barter club where you trade goods and services and no money is involved. My husband was reworking our driveway entrance to our 3 acres. He needed sand and gravel. A nearby quarry went out of business but needed the acreage mowed. My husband offered to bush hog off the property in exchange for the sand and gravel.

By using these ideas and others, we are living smarter and enjoying life to the fullest!

Kimberly Johns, Debt Management Plan Customer with Leading Provider of Debt Relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Kimberly Johns

Kimberly is enrolled on the CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Kimberly is very active in the Community Forums, some of you may recognize her Community user name; Tiquie. Recently retired, Kim shares how she and her husband manage the financial challenges of living on a fixed income in their home state of Illinois. The John's have found some really creative and fun ways to offset the limitations of a retirement income. Kimberly generously shares smart and tested tips in her A Straight Talk on Debt blog! Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • Great article. I managed to figure out most of these on my own along my trudging through life. Perhaps the only thing that put a dent on my saving strategy was an old student debt that I had. That one I couldn't get over on my own, and actually found myself having to contact this debt settlement firm based in the country where I live, which is Colombia (the name's http://www.curadebt.com/, in case anyone's interested). Anyhow, rant over, and again, great article. Kudos!

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  • it is really a good idea to have money especially on investing something it needs to have a good strategy to save.

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