When I first started playing with this “get out of debt” thing, I did it quietly for two months. I cut out mindless spending, cut way back on eating out, changed a couple of insurance policies, cancelled some subscriptions and paid off my truck.
One of my mindless spending habits was Target. For the longest time, I would take my Mom to Target on Sunday afternoons. We could get things she needed while I was around to help load and carry them. The habit was an easy way to be sure I spent time with her every week because my job kept me so stupidly busy Monday through Friday.
What did I buy? I wish I could tell you. I know I spent about $100 every Sunday. I know I rarely had a list of things I needed. It was shopping for entertainment and I don’t even like to shop. One thing I remember that I bought every week was a big busy bone for Higgins. It cost about $6. If I did that every week for a year, that was $312!
Some of that $100 was for things I needed; paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning stuff; but most of it was impulse buys. Looking at what I spend now, I estimate that 25% of the $100 average weekly trip went to necessities. Eliminating Target mindless spending allowed me to put $7800 over the course of 24 months towards killing debt.
If you are just getting started on this thing, before you take your next trip to Target or Wal-Mart or wherever, take everything out of the cupboard where you keep cleaning supplies and inventory it. How many cans of Pledge, bottles of Febreze or boxes of Swiffer refills do you need? Don’t buy any new products until you’ve used up the old.
When we replaced our windows years ago, the installer recommended cleaning them with a mixture of 10% cheap white vinegar, 90% water with a bit of Dawn detergent – if they are really dirty. This same concoction works great on our bathrooms and counters and floors (just not marble). One spray bottle: cheap, easy, and effective.
Do the same for your pantry. Is there really a need for 4 jars of peanut butter? Take everything out; inventory it and figure out how to use it up.
So, what about getting together with Mom? Our regular outing is now to the library. We still go to Target occasionally, but if there is nothing on my list, I don’t buy anything. And as for Higgins, he is glad to have a walk instead of a bone, any day.