Tips to save money and get out of debt

There are plenty of frugal sites out there. This is not one of them. I don’t plan on trying to compete.

I do, however, teach the scriptures; and much is said about frugality, debt, savings, and being wise stewards.

Recently I have been teaching a series on Biblical Stewardship, so I thought I’d give a few ideas on how to save money. You can listen to my teaching series here: Sermons 2013

Here are a few ideas to save more, earn more, and get out of debt fast.

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1. Follow these three rules:
First, a penny saved is worth more than a penny earned. You don’t get taxed on what you save. At least for now.

Second, multiplying small savings + time = Big savings. Do many little things to save money over time and you win big.

Third, debt retirement and saving money requires work. Hard work. Get ahold of a Biblical work ethic. Study what the scriptures says about hard work. Also, listen to a messages on having a Biblical work ethic:

2. Downgrade to one vehicle.
I’m doing it right now. I work three jobs, and I have a newborn and a toddler. I also commute out of town 2-3 days a week. We save tons of money without having to pay registration, insurance, tires, and maintenance. If I can do it, you can do it.

3. Fire the lawn guy and/or the house cleaners:
Do it yourself. Your lawn service people and the house cleaning team are nice folk, but their employment is worth it for you if you are in debt. You can buy a cheap, used lawn mower on craigslist for fifty bucks, grab some ear-protectors and get to work.

4. Cancel cable:
Watch TV on the internet. If hulu.com is not enough, get Amazon Prime. You’ll get streaming videos and free shipping. Check it out here: Amazon Prime

5. Get rid of your smart phone:
You don’t need it, and you’ll save some serious cash. If you absolutely must have a smart phone, try one of the no contract companies. They will save you up to 50.00 bucks a month. I used AT&T no contract. I only pay 65.00 dollars a month and I get good service, more data than I need, and unlimited talk and text.

6. Stop eating out while at work.
Take the time to pack a lunch and snacks. Eating out murders your finances.

Coffee in the morning ($2.00)
Lunch ($9.00)
Soda ($2.00)
Each work day ($13.00)

250 work days x $13.00 dollars equals $3,250.00 for the year. That’s huge!

7. Bulk buying:
If you’re not couponing, Costo is worth it. But couponing will always beat Costco.

Learn to freezer cook. Look it up online. It will help you to buy in bulk, but you’ll also be more prepared for meals.

Get into a food co-opt and buy larger quantities cheaper. Try azurestandard.com. They offer healthy, organic food in bulk for a great price. We love them.

8. Vehicles:
Change your own oil and tune up your own car. You can find videos for just about anything on youtube. The last time three times I needed to get something fixed on my car I figured out how to do it on by watching a video—and I’m no mechanic. I saved hundreds of dollars by simply dragging my laptop into the garage and doing it myself.

9. Kids:
Get into cloth diapering. No, it’s not the old kind with those dangerous pins. They look just like regular diapers, only you reuse them. You’ll spend more up front, but save a ton over the long haul. We use them and we’ll never go back.

10. Bartering:
Try to barter goods and services with friends. Leverage social media.

Use paperbackswap.com to get cheap books. It’s form of bartering. I’ve swapped dozens of books over the last year and only had to pay shipping.

11. Misc.
Get into couponing. You don’t have to be a freak about it.

Get control of your bank accounts. Overdraft fees will kill you

Get free pens from businesses. They usually give them away as advertising. You should never have to buy a pen.

Go garage sale’ing and look for deals. Take the family. Get some exercise and make a fun morning out of it.

Always go shopping on a full stomach. Fast food relies on spontaneity. Statistically, the average purchase at McDonalds was not planned. People are hungry, drive by, and think ‘Hey, it’s only a dollar.’ But you end up spending five.

Save the toiletries from your hotel; but don’t steal.

Get free samples. My wife does this well. We get free samples just about every week in our mailbox.

If you plan on shopping at a specific store, you can buy gift cards for it for cheaper than the dollar amount. For example, as of today, you can get a $25.00 dollar gift card at American Eagle Outfitters for $21.75. If you are already going there to buy something, it’s worth it. Try plasticjungle.com

If you buy them in bulk, you can buy stamps cheaper on Ebay than they sell them at the Post Office. I don’t really know how, but you can.

Plant a small garden. Plant one even if you have a brown thumb. I am certain this is debatable, but the easiest things to grow are these: carrots, green beans, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers, and basil. Rosemary is a shrub and practically grows on its own! Here’s a good resource for gardening:

12. Keep learning:
Dave Ramsey—follow him, read his books, and listen to his radio show. Take his course on getting control of your finances:

Clark Howard—listen to his radio show.

Crystal Paine—read her blog (moneysavingmom.com)

Find other resources and learn everything you can.

13. Don’t use a change counter:
I decided to expand upon the last one. You’ve probably seen these at your local grocery store. Dump your change into the metal tray, and listen to the machine make an ungodly racket while everyone stares at you. Then take the receipt to the help desk where they act like they are doing you a favor to give your own money.

There are two reasons not to do this. First, it’s embarrassing.

Everyone’s looking at you and your rusty can. They’re thinking, ‘Poor guy. He must’ve just lost his job.’ Or better yet, ‘He probably lives in his parent’s basement and this is the only way he can pay for his monthly World of Warcraft subscription.’

If your rusty can was not enough to get their attention, the sound of the coin sorter will. It’s a kind of an alarm system for the general public. It screams, THIS GUY IS DESPARATE FOR MONEY. LOOK AT HIM!!! Either way, you wait there trying not to look stupid, while people wonder why the heck you are standing there in your sweats, flip-flops, and white T-shirt looking like a fool. This is a lose-lose scenario.

The second reason is, of course, financial. They take 9 percent. Nine!

The last time I was dumb enough to take my change to the grocery store, I came home with over a hundred bucks. I lost about ten dollars on that deal. Think of all that work? –scrounging for coins under the car seat, finding them at the bottom of the wash machine, waiting for them to pass after your toddler swallowed a few while you checked your email. I work hard for these coins and I don’t want to give away 9 percent.

So, what are our options?

The easiest is this: many banks offer free coin sorting. Yes, free! They won’t do it for any random guy with a rusty can, but they will do it for legitimate customers. Not all banks do it. I bank at a credit union and they do it for free and they do it with a smile. They also do it in the back room so it doesn’t make a racket. By the way, ditch your bank and join a Credit Union.

Alright folks, go get ‘em!

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