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The Good Life For Less: 3, 2, 1 — Debt Detox!

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

By Alison Lorge, WCCO

In spring, many are getting ready for swimsuit season by working out, but it’s a good time of year to get your finances in shape too.

That’s why I’m daring you to follow these three tips, for two weeks in order to help you save $100. (Hence the title “3, 2, 1 Debt Detox!”)

You’ve likely heard of the diets that ask you to detox your body of refined sugar or caffeine, well, think of what I’m challenging you to do as cleansing yourself from some of the more wasteful spending habits. It’s easier to do when you think of it as just two weeks of cutting back your spending and making a few changes to give yourself a better foundation for financial success.

1. Change The Way You Eat

Food is a necessity, but you have the choice on what to spend your money on. Going out to eat can add up. And if you are a typical family, you may find yourself throwing away leftovers or maybe fruit and salad that you took too long to finish before it went bad. That’s why food may be one of the biggest ways to throw money down the drain.

So, for two weeks, skip going out for meals, avoid the vending machines, bottled water and even the morning trip to the coffee shop. Instead it’s time to become friends with your pantry. Use what you have in the cupboards first to avoid spending money on unnecessary groceries. You can’t go a full two weeks without going to the grocery store, but this is a way to use what you have. And if brown bag the lunch, drink  water only from the tap and brew your own pot of coffee, you will see those dollars accumulating quickly.

Here are six ‘from-the-pantry’ recipes to help get you started.

2. Get The Credit Cards In Check

Putting your money towards paying interest is another money waster. Of course there are the instances that are usually unavoidable — your house, your student loans, your car — but credit cards shouldn’t be one of them.

By calling your credit card companies to negotiate a lower interest rate you could save potentially hundreds of dollars each year. It’s easy and can take you just minutes to do. Click here for some tips on negotiating a better credit card deal.

If you find that your credit card companies are budging, start paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. It’s better to make this the card that you pay more than the minimum on just to get it off your plate. Then work your way down the line until your debt free.

Really want to boost your savings during the detox? Unless you are paying your credit card bills in full at the end of each month, put the credit cards away for the two weeks. Only use cash to make purchases and you’ll be more aware of what you’re spending.

3. Sign Up For A Free Online Budget Account

This is the gift that keeps on giving. By signing up for a free online budgeter you will be able to see where all your money is going and where you’re spending … and overspending.

My favorite website for this is MINT.COM from the makers of Quicken, one of the most popular personal finance software companies. The site is safe to use and once you sign up, it will automatically pull your financial information so you can see it in one streamlined space.

My family has personally been using this for years and we love it!

Looking for other online budget tools? Check out this article.

If you know of any other deals, share them with other ‘Good Lifers’ in the comment section. You can also text WCCODEALS to 84816 for a ‘deals of the week’ reminder.

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