The expression “swimming in debt” is always hilarious because swimming is an enjoyable activity and no one wants to swim in debt. Drowning in debt doesn’t fit because drowning only takes minutes but debt lasts for decades. No one drowns for decades.
If an analogy involving bills and water is necessary, how about treading in debt? Debt involves treading water until you eventually drown or figure out a way to pay it all off.
People can tread in debt forever.
Cherie and Brian Lowe were kicking their legs around in bills for years. In 2008 the married couple was $127,000 in the hole and living paycheck to paycheck.
They needed to change their spending habits but they had a family so “not spending” wasn’t possible.
The couple devised a 15-year plan to pay it all off and executed all the typical moves to erase student loans, credit cards, and car loans.
The couple worked together to increase their incomes with side hustles while building an emergency fund and reworking tax holdings.
The one spending hack that Cherie thinks paved the way for financial success involves spending habits at the one place people have to go, no matter how strapped for funds — the grocery store. But her advice is practical and works for any shopping trip.
“Every time you check out at the grocery store, you need to look in your cart and find three to five items that you don’t need,” she says. “You will save $5 to $10 every time you shop without cutting a single coupon.” The tactic works for two reasons: It puts a barrier between placing an item in your cart and actually paying for them and it shaves down your bills little by little.
“It’s the pause before you check out that I think is so effective,” Cherie says, noting that the idea holds especially true in grocery stores, where it’s easy to nab appealing items without much thought about how they add up. “There some things that sometimes we pick up and maybe we might need them next week — and it’s fine to go ahead and buy them next week — but right now you probably don’t [need it]. Just pause and only buy what you really need.”
She’s right. I speak from experience. Every time I go food shopping I pick up impulse items or stuff I think I need or assume I ran out of without actually checking the cupboard. Hence, five bottles of barbeque sauce just hanging around without paying rent.
Just taking off three items can save anywhere from $10-20 bucks which really adds up over time.
So next time you’re shopping, whether it’s grocery or a Target run, look at the stuff on the conveyor belt and ask yourself “can I survive without that item?”
You might be debt free one day too.