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.

Comments (12)
  1. Mg says:

    Speaking completely biased, as a coffee shop owner, I encourage you… Rather than giving up coffee, stop your Internet services and cable services for a year, imagine….you would have lots of money for coffees. 🙂

  2. Tc Radiodj says:

    Yea It is really hard to cut out the luxuries I know. I learned the hard way myself when I was younger, and now I have no credit cards, other then the debit card for the checking account, no debt really other then monthly bills. I decided if I cannot pay cash for what I need, I do not get it.

  3. Pam says:

    Have you bothered to look at the user reviews of the site MINT.COM? I think you do your viewers a disservice by recommending a site with hundreds of complaints against them on everything from errors in transaction posting to being unable to add manual transactions to poor customer service. Maybe you should do some homework next time. Just because a product serves YOUR needs does NOT mean it is a good product for your entire viewer population.

    1. Linderwoman says:

      Dear Pam,
      Have you even bothered to try I started using it once I read the article / saw the show and I love it! It’s incredibly easy to use and it’s FREE! I love that it syncs all of my accounts on one interface, makes money saving recommendations and gives me the tools I need to better manage my finances. I would highly recommend to anyone that wants to better manage their finances and is comfortable using a web based application.

      In response to your complaints, I found it easy to add manual transactions. However, if you (or any user) do not use credit cards at all or do not like an online user interface, this is probably not for you. Cash only types of people might find it easier to write everything down in a notebook and manage their spending on their own. In terms of customer service, I have not needed any customer service thus far so I cannot comment. However, it seems a little unreasonable to expect a lot of customer service when the service is FREE.

      And Pam aka Debbie Downer, please keep in mind that just because a product does not serve YOUR needs, does not mean it’s not a good product for a lot of people.

      Kudos to and the author of this article! I really enjoyed it!

      1. J.R. says:

        I agree Linderwoman. We’ve recently starting using this is my household and I love that we can easily combine budgets for my husband and myself and when we go over our budget we get an email so we know it’s time to reevaluate our budget or stop spending! This is a super great service that we’ll be using for quite some time!

  4. ML says:

    This program may be helpful to many. However, after listening to Crown Ministries on the radio several years ago, I learned a better way to save money. Give of the first fruits to the Lord(10%) of your gross income, spend time in God’s House on Sunday mornings, and pray. I have been out of debt for over three years and feel very free financially. God will make a way where there seems to be no way. Our country needs to remember We are ONE NATION UNDER GOD. Saving money is a nice idea, but when we leave God out of our lives we money will destroy us.

  5. dona says:

    What about – cutting down on cell phone services and the expanded cable tv packages? What about not buying new clothes, but digging out last year’s spring and summer clothes and only replacing what’s worn out? What about – not hiring things done, like lawn maintenance, that you can easily do yourself? There are many more ways to cut down on expenses than just eating the food that’s in your kitchen and not using credit cards.

  6. Alison says:

    Yes Dona- There are so many ways to save. In fact, the ones you’ve listed are other ways which I have discussed before in my blog posts throughout the years. This was just 3 quick ways for people to get a 2 week jump start on saving if they need a little boost. Some simple suggestions to save more money fast. Thanks for your comments and for sharing other suggestions with ‘Good Life readers.

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