5 Expenses You Can't Afford If You Have Credit Card Debt

5) Cable. Your Excuse: “But, but, but I need cable! I get a good deal! It’s only $100 a month! I use it a lot! It’s bundled with my phone and my internet. I’ll only save $30 a month if I cancel it.”

Know what? We don’t care. If you have credit card debt you can’t afford cable. You don’t actually need it. In fact, after you get rid of it, you may well find that you don’t even miss it. Lots of people get along just fine without it. Cancel your cable. Get cheaper internet. Cancel your home phone if you don’t need it. Put the money you save toward your credit card debt. Once you stop spending more than you earn and have paid your debts, you can think about getting cable again.

4) Eating Out: Your Excuse: “But, but, but I love food! I don’t have time to cook! I can’t cook! I’ll poison my entire family! I’m too busy working! It doesn’t cost that much!”

If it didn’t cost that much you wouldn’t have credit card debt. If you are spending more than you earn you have to stop eating out. Learn to cook. When? Well, since you canceled cable, you’ll have a lot more time on your hands. Make yourself a firm grocery budget. You can use the USDA’s food costs estimates to help you. Put all your grocery money in an envelope and go to the store. Don’t spend any more than is in that envelope.

3) Recreational Shopping: Your Excuse: “But, but, but shopping makes me feel better! I’m depressed! My kids need stuff! I need stuff! I have to look good for work! I have to buy expensive gifts for people so they’ll like me!”

If you have credit card debt, you are probably buying more crap than you need. This means that you probably have enough crap to sustain you for awhile. Stop shopping. Have a yard sale. Cut up your credit cards if you can’t make yourself stop. Don’t cancel them, though. You still need to pay them off.

2) Gym Membership: Your Excuse: “But, but, but this is my health we’re talking about! I’m fat! I’ll get fatter! I need the gym! I have a contract!”

Sell your membership or cancel it if its month to month. You don’t really need it. You can do jumping jacks. Also, since you’re going to be eating out less, and sitting on your ass watching cable less, it’ll be easier to lose weight. Once you pay off your debts, you can see if a gym membership fits in your budget. In the meantime, go outside and play.

1) Expensive Cars: Your Excuse: “I am what I drive! I love this car! This car is who I am!”

No it’s not. Sell it. Get a cheaper car. Use the money to pay off your debts. No one cares what you drive except you and really shallow people who suck. Do you really want to be in debt just to impress a bunch of shallow people?

In order to get out of debt you need to curb your monthly expenses:

Let’s say you have $10,000 in credit card debt and your current minimum payment is $250. At 18% with a minimum payment of 2.5% it will take you 382 months to be rid of your debt. In that time, you will pay $14,615.49 in interest. Fun.

If you pay a fixed payment of $250 dollars (your current minimum payment), it will take you 62 months to be rid of your debt. In that time, you will pay $5,386.23 in interest. Still pretty crappy.

If you managed to cut your expenses by $200 a month and applied that amount to your current minimum payment, then paid that amount ($450) it would only take you 28 months to be rid of your debt. In that time, you would pay $2,255.56 in interest.

Still not convinced? You can use this calculator from Bankrate to determine how much money you’re wasting by not paying off your credit card debt as quickly as you can. Getting out of debt will make you feel better than watching TV in a new pair of shoes ever could.

Those of you who got yourselves out of credit card debt, which expenses did you cut? What advice do you have for people who are drowning in high interest credit card debt? Let’s hear it!



Edit Your Comment

  1. Crazytree says:

    any of the following purses, in order of tastelessness:

    1. Dooney & Burke*
    2. Louis Vuitton
    3. Gucci
    4. Coach
    5. Fendi

    * why people would pay hundreds of dollars for a cheap knockoff of a LV bag is beyond me.

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    “I am what I drive! I love this car! This car is who I am!”

    No it’s not. Sell it. Get a cheaper car. Use the money to pay off your debts. No one cares what you drive except you and really shallow people who suck. Do you really want to be in debt just to impress a bunch of shallow people?”

    Also there are a lot of really fucking awesome cheap cars out there. (Miata! Fox Mustang! Camaro! Crown Vic! Civic SI! MR2! Impreza!)

    And if you buy a piece of shit beater that you can actually afford to destroy, you can have more fun with it than you could EVER have with your shiny new status-mobile. (Off-roading in an Accord!)

    And if you buy an older model BMW or Lexus or something, people will still think you’re driving an expensive car even if it costs less to buy and maintain than their newer Civic.

    • jodark says:

      @TechnoDestructo: I want to warn people about older model luxury cars like BMW, Merc, Lexus etc. The maintenence for these vehicles is very expensive. I have a 2005 BMW 330xi. New brake rotors and pads for the front wheels cost me about 400$ after it was all said and done. That was after I shopped around on the internet for wholesalers, they originally quoted me at $600. Also, the labor rates from dealers on these cars is extremely high, $125/hour.
      My car is my only guilty pleasure despite having credit card debt, after I pay it off in 5 years then I put that payment towards any other remaining debt.

  3. exkon says:

    I’m in the same situation, but my credit card debit will be gone in one month!!

    Here are my tips:

    – Keep track of every little purchase you make, it’ll help you see what your spending on and if you really need to make those purchases

    – look at all your current debts (school loans, car loans, etc). Which one has the best interest rates, how much you owe. Try paying the min amount you can and focus all the rest into one bill.

    – If possible, just cut up the credit card and throw it away!

  4. SVreader says:

    @Crazytree: I’ve never understood the expensive purse thing either. I got my no-name purse as a birthday gift years ago, and it manages to hold my stuff, which is all a purse really needs to do. Okay, and I guess it’s cute.

  5. CyGuy says:

    I would edit the title to 5 things you can’t afford (at least not very often) if you don’t own your own house, have health insurance, have your kids 529 plans fully funded, and have maxed-out your 401-K plan.

    3, 4, and 5 really shouldn’t be considered if you haven’t already saved for your families future. 1 and 2 should be possible within reason, but shouldn’t exceed $200/month combined.

  6. Erik1972 says:

    I had three cards I owed on. I decided to pay the minimum on two of them and throw all I could spare at the third. I would then move on to the next card and finally the last one. It took me about four years to get out of debt.

  7. TechnoDestructo says:


    I don’t get “designer” items which are really mundane, but they’re printed with hundreds of copies of the maker’s logo.

    It makes them goddamn ugly, and makes the wearer/bearer look like an idiot. Maybe they are high-quality…but what happened to letting quality speak for itself? A logo shouldn’t be the defining trait of an item’s design. That isn’t design, that’s the “diamond encrusted 70 dollar MP3 player for 20,000 dollars” approach to design.

  8. jonasaukerland says:

    Cut everything in half. If you’re young and don’t have kids or a mortgage, this might actually work for you. It worked for me. I was in school and racked up about $6k in credit card debt.

    I paid off my debt in 3 months by literally looking at my expenses and cutting them in half. This required doing all of the things that Consumerist suggests. Most importantly, it meant getting a roommate. I lived in a college town, so finding one for the summer wasn’t difficult (dorms closing and all).

    Oh, and I kind of took it to the extreme…like sitting in the dark instead of turning on the lamp, turning my air conditioning off, walking everywhere remotely close instead of spending gas money, etc.

    Basically, it required showing restraint that I lacked on the way to accumulating the debt.

  9. bohemian says:

    Cut out expensive clothes. If you work somewhere that you will lose job credibility for not having a $600 bag find a better place to work – with humans.

  10. warf0x0r says:

    Cut your expenses and start paying a fixed amount from your paycheck immediately when you get it on payday. I blew away 6k of debt in one year with my 3k tax return and by paying 75 dollars a week to my CC. After that it was easy street blasting them out. Now I just have student loans left.
    I also finished college and got a high paying job in my field so now I’m able to afford my loans, a new economy car payment and my rent with plenty left over. Time to start saving for retirement.

  11. CamilleR says:

    Yes, I do need cable. When I get home from work, I need to relax and unwind and my TV plays a big role in that. If I didn’t have cable, I’d buy more DVDs, go out to more movies, and spend more time in bars, all of which would cost more than my cable bill. I did get rid of a lot of channels I don’t watch.
    I’ll follow the other four rules (my car’s 13 years old and will eventually be replaced with the cheapest new Yaris on the lot which will also be run into the ground), but I need some entertainment.

    • the_wiggle says:

      @CamilleR: not alone in those needs. i just wish cable would go a la cart. so tired of paying for the package when we only use maybe 5 channels.

  12. Mary says:

    Remember, with cheaper internet, don’t go with People PC. They look like a good deal, but I got nothing but grief out of them, and canceling? Even after I moved I couldn’t seem to cancel.

    I got out of debt an old fashioned way: I married a saver who had money put away. But I’ve stayed out of debt with responsible spending. My current plan is to have two jobs, my full time job that pays the bills. Then a part-time, once a week job that is my only spending money for things like books, dvds, etc.

    Also, I can’t say enough how renting movies can save somebody who is used to buying them instead. I know it sounds crazy, “YOU DON’T NEED MOVIES!”

    But the fact is cold turkey is next to impossible. So if you cut out cable, get Netflix or Blockbuster, and then rent instead of buy, you can turn what was a huge expense on your monthly bill into once little price per month.

    I had Netflix when I didn’t have cable, and I didn’t really miss cable that much.

    The other problem is convincing the phone company to give you the absolute bare bones phone line. I fought with them for months because I wanted the plan that basically gave me unlimited local calling and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE. They kept trying to put new things on and charge me for it. This is why I hate Verizon.

    • stands2reason says:


      Why would you want diapup? DSL barely costs more, and if you’re really in the sticks, you can get a cell data plan for about the same price.

  13. mmwwah says:

    I’d amend this in two ways:

    1. You can’t afford cable unless you are already making good progress in paying it off.

    2. You can’t afford *expensive* meals out. C’mon, it’s unrealistic to expect anybody living and working in a sub/urban environment to refrain from grabbing a sandwich or eating in the company cafeteria.

  14. BoraBora says:

    I hate labels, but the occasional good quality item is not such a bad thing. I’ve had cheap purses all my life until 5 years ago when I spent $250 on a simple Coach purse. The thing it’s got going for it is that the quality is exceptional (my cheap purses would show wear after 6 months or so.) It’s my only purse, and I plan on using it for the next decade.

    I got rid of cable 3 years ago, and don’t miss it. Nowadays a lot of the networks will let you watch their shows online.

  15. Veeber says:

    But you can find entertainment that’s not cable. I lived on two channels for a long time and guess what, the local library tends to have lots of DVDs or tapes for rent. Read books instead of watching TV. If you are struggling with credit debt getting rid of these expenses is first and foremost. If you’re out of debt it’s a different story.

  16. liquisoft says:

    I’ve heard of people who only get their shows via iTunes. I guess these people watch so little television that it’s actually cheaper to buy the shows they care about than to pay for cable. Kind of a neat idea.

  17. SOhp101 says:

    @Crazytree: I disagree. The thing that’s beyond me are women who purchase purses when they can’t afford it (Ta Da! Living beyond one’s means… seems to be the moral of the story a lot on Consumerist articles).

    Purses are a status symbol among women just like the way guys like the newest gadget or the way guys go gaga over a home entertainment system.

  18. GenXCub says:

    1) Cash only (not even debit cards). With each paycheck, I gave myself X amount of cash to get me through 2 weeks (with some extra on my desk at home if needed).

    2) Seat-Filler Services… this may only be Vegas-specific, but there are TONS of seat-filler services that give you free tickets to shows every week. I’m getting free Blue Man Group next week.

    3) No pay channels (seriously… have you SEEN what they show on HBO?)

    4) Lowest internet tier over 1 Mbps (1 Mbps will get you anything you want, but the bare-minimum plans are sometimes only 256kbps, which is horrid)

    5) Keep every receipt. Find a way to write the expense off (legally).

  19. Rando says:

    @Crazytree: Who said you have to pay for them if you say you got double charged? ;)

  20. Photochick57 says:

    I moved out of my apartment and am renting a room from someone. All the utilities are included so I don’t have any of those monthly bills. I cut out my Netflix account, my charities and all other monthly bills except insurance and cell phone. Not eating out is hard but this post has encouraged me to try it for a month.

    My case is extreme I have to pay off a large credit card debt before June 2008 when I go to the Peace Corps. But I am wishing I had thought of it before.

  21. Even if you’re not in debt, canceling your cable is definitely worthwhile. All your favorite TV shows are available online anyway, and think of all the time (and electricity, for that matter) you’ll save not sitting in front of the TV all night flipping through channels.

    If you get good cell phone reception in your house, drop your land line, too. You’re not getting any benefit from having two phone numbers.

  22. ErinYay says:

    Shouldn’t “smoking” be pretty high on this list, too? Also “alcohol.”

    Okay, time to go chain smoke and have some margs to drown out my husband’s $80k CC debt!

  23. Crazytree says:

    @SOhp101: if you’re rich and you have good taste… you’d be carrying a purse from Hermes, Ferregamo, et al.

    Louis Vuitton is a brand from crack hookers.

    Don’t ask me how I know. ;p

  24. vitonfluorcarbon says:


    Looks like you have your priorities straight. We all gotta live, but live within our means. You’ve made your choice, and if there were more like you we wouldn’t be sweating about the “credit crunch” that has Wall Street up in arms.

  25. kyrka says:

    About going out to eat…

    I had a hard time with this while I was trying to pay down my debt before grad school. For my friends, eating was a social event and when they went out, they always started with dinner out. What I did was either skip dinner and just meet up with them later at the bar or eat before the restaurant or I ate before at home and just sipped a drink or coffee and talked while they ate their meal. For drinking I mostly restricted myself to a single drink at the bar/restaurant that I could sip during the night or else volunteered to be the designated driver (most bars will give you free sodas if you are the DD). That way, I could still go out and have fun and even be of help to my friends!

  26. RamonaLittle says:

    With regard to gym membership, I just wanted to point out that some health insurance plans offer gym reimbursement if you submit proof that you went a certain number of times. I just got a check from Oxford myself, by submitting a form showing I went to the gym 50 times in six months. You can download the form (PDF) from their website after logging in.

    Also in general I don’t think encouraging people to cancel their gym memberships is necessarily a good thing. Some people live in neighborhoods where there aren’t really a lot of other excercise options, or have small apartments where doing any kind of exercise runs the risk of breaking stuff. For me personally, when I go to the gym regularly I have more energy and get more stuff done, which (depending on one’s circumstances) might make it easier to earn money and pay off those bills.

    My two cents.

  27. UpsetPanda says:

    Here’s the flaw – sell your car, use it to pay debts. Flaw because if you sell your car, you have to use the money to buy a new car. Most cars depreciate enough that what you get is not enough to cover new car payments. Guess what? Now you have to pay for a new car and for that car’s insurance. Good luck. It’s why I haven’t sold my gas guzzling luxury SUV. It runs well and I don’t have car payments. If I were to trade it in for a Honda, I suddenly face car payments.

  28. fluiddruid says:

    For myself, the solution after getting some very substantial medical bills was not just cutting costs (no cable or home phone for me) but increasing my income. “But I can’t get a raise!” So what? There are lots of opportunities out there! In my spare time, I put together a website ($50 a month income despite relatively minor traffic), started writing online, started mystery shopping, and taking online surveys. It may sound cheesy, but I make around $200 on a really light month and more like $400+ (not counting free meals and other stuff) on good months. You can get a part time job or freelancing really easily online. Sure, you have to watch for scams, but as long as you have common sense (avoid money order scams), you’re relatively safe.

    That’s in my spare time, and I’m not working around the clock either. We’re talking giving up 2-3 lunchbreaks a week, maybe a night or two during the week, and a few hours over the weekend. Plus, I enjoy what I do, so I don’t mind having a smaller entertainment budget.

  29. descend says:


    Consider libraries ‘n’ books ‘n’ reading ‘n’ stuff…

  30. RecoveringSociopath says:

    Not only did we get rid of cable– we got rid of our televisions altogether. That’s right– there is not a tv in our home.

    We do not miss it. We do love to watch movies, but we can watch them on our laptops (which were paid for by my husband’s employer, btw). We rent or borrow movies from friends. We play board games. We read lots and lots of books. We eat almost every meal around an actual table, looking at each other’s faces. We spend lots of time actively engaged with our two toddlers.

    Amen to the gym membership idea, too– I lost 50 lbs this year by walking around town with my kids– no gym involved. We have gotten to know our neighborhood and our city in a way we never would have otherwise, and I’m pleased my kids are forming healthy habits early.

    Another big cost-saving measure has been eliminating most meat from our diet. We’ve learned to cook lots of fresh vegetables in tasty and nourishing ways, with the added bonus of improved health. We’ve learned to consider a limited grocery budget a creative challenge.

  31. dandd says:

    @Crazytree: Dude, you need to shop around for your knock-offs. A great knock-off should cost $75 max, if it is more it has been through too many middle men.

    I totally agree with the notion that extra bills require extra income. I know plenty of people that make money on side jobs. A few months or so of two job hell can get you out of the hole.

  32. cabedrgn says:

    Its a good list to follow for those who want to put money away quickly as well. I had to get rid of my truck (V8, always breaking down, needed it for a job I had years and years ago. Cost me over $2,200 over the past 3 months and the tranny just dropped last week) because it was costing me more then a car loan and it was paid off. Ended up selling it to a junk yard (didn’t have a choice with the tranny dead, no one would take it) and ended up buying a 2006 Kia Sportage used for $9,500 w/11,000 miles. Instead of costing me $86/wk in gas its costing me $45/wk.

    Sometimes you have to watch out, an older car with issues could cost you more than a current car loan at a good rate.

  33. UpsetPanda says:

    I have to say that I’ve never been in credit card debt. Yet, I have also never bought a designer purse (they’ve all been gifts or hand-me-downs) and have never felt the pinch that requires giving up all five of the above. I feel like there are allowances to be made in some occasions. To me, Netflix is worth it because I can pay $9.50 for an in-theater movie I might hate or I can pay what amounts to being a few cents for a Netflix movie. Plus there’s that satisfaction when I watch a crap movie that I didn’t pay $9.50 for it.

  34. nycesq says:

    Eh, I have to disagree with the gym membership part. First of all, many health insurance plans will reimburse you for a portion of the membership fees. Further, I think this should be absolutely last on the list of things to give up because not exercising leads to poor health leads to medical bills leads to…

  35. Crazytree says:

    @dandd: Dude you need to work on your reading comp.

    I was referring to to D&B which is to Louis Vuitton what Coby is to Sony… an overpriced, rebadged knockoff.

  36. Ultraprison! says:

    i got a dooney and bourke purse for $28 at a thrift store where the
    salesperson clearly didnt recognize the brand… love it! and my
    grandma got me a D&B wristlet for my birthday :) i’m just saying
    they have a handful of cute things. not the ones that have DB DB DB
    re-written over and over, though.

    the BEST thing you can do to cut down on costs is to get a roommate. i know, i know, we’re not living in the dorms any more.

    but your bills for rent, electricity, and forbidden Showtime On
    Demand (anyone else keeping up with Dexter? good stuff) get cut in half
    without you having to do a damn thing. and my roommate cooks. magical!

  37. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    #4 Eating out. I am not sure about where you live, but here in the SF bayarea eating out is not much more expensive than the grocery store.

  38. ShariC says:

    This is an interesting article and makes some good points but the writing style is repetitive and mocking (“but, but, but” and too many exclamation points). Also, I somehow doubt people make these sorts of arguments very often to excuse their spending habits. They seem a bit simplistic and designed mainly to help support the author’s arguments. The excuses remind me a bit of those FAQs written by businesses which are built around information the company wants to offer rather than around actual questions that have been asked (or that people want answered).

    Nice try but I think the way in which the article is written undermines the utility by attempting to make the audience that may actually find it useful (as opposed to the audience which will join in on deriding those with these types of problems) feel stupid so the author can feel superior and tell them off.

    FWIW, I have never had credit card debt (and in fact have no debt of any kind) so this isn’t someone who feels targeted getting upset.

  39. JohnnyE says:

    You are FAR too easy! How about these? If you are in debt you don’t need:

    1)Air conditioning in your home. Yeah, even if you live in Florida. People lived without it for centuries. Even back in the 70’s, it was pretty rare for middle-class folks to run air condition all the time. Yeah, you might be uncomfortable. You might even sweat. You won’t die (with rare exceptions and then you can run the A/C.) At any rate, it’s a LUXURY that you can’t AFFORD because you have a negative net worth.

    2)Cell phones/long-distance/long distance plans with fixed minimum. Again, a modern CONVENIENCE that for the most part is dispensable. If your cell is required for work or generates revenue for you, work (or it) should pay for it — otherwise, all you need is a $20-$30 @ month land line WITH NO long distance. If you can get a cell for the same rate as a basic land line instead, fine. Instead of long-distance, write email or letters (or maybe Skype/Gizmo/etc.) to talk with out of town relations/friends. Go back to like it was in the 70’s, if someone is calling long distance, it better be an emergency or someone died. If you are in debt, and paying more than $40 @ month for basic phone service, you likely can do some cutting back.

    3) Learn how to soak and cook dried beans and legumes. Maybe invest in an inexpensive pressure cooker so you can cook beans in minutes rather than hours. For the price of one chicken, you could eats weeks of beans. For the price of some meals out, you could eat beans for a year. Remember those jars by cash registers which said, “Your change can feed a child in a 3rd world country for a week.” Well, it can feed you too, if you eat basic staple foods like beans and whole grains. When you are out of debt, you can eat like a 1st worlder again.

  40. SybilDisobedience says:

    I was once in $8000 of credit card debt, and I used all these routes and more to pay my debt off. However, I also had an awesome support system, without which I probably would’ve failed – my mom and my fiance. I moved in with my mom after 5 years on my own; it was humiliating at first, but we have a good relationship, and I was able to devote more of my take-home pay to my debt. 2) my fiance has excellent credit, and transfered two of my $1000 cards to one of his own – lower interest and no fees. I didn’t let them down, and had all my debts cleaned up in a year.

  41. HooFoot says:

    My husband and I started drinking coffee black. This doesn’t sound like much, but we ended up saving at least $10 a month from not buying cream and sugar.

  42. greggdetroit does not like the American South says:

    As an aside, and TOTALLY off topic:

    LJ’s is a sweet bar. I live roughly 5 minutes away via bike.

    Sorry for the interruption, but one can’t help but drop some Detroit love when it pops up in a Consumerist post photo.

    Thanks for your time!

  43. EmmaC says:

    I use rabbit ears. If there is a cable show I have to watch, I give blank videocassettes to family members to tape for me. I would check out exercise dvds to work out to at my library vs. a gym membership. I cook, look at the weekly ads and plan my menu based on what is on sale. I “invest” 99 cents each Sunday for a paper and clip coupons. It all adds and in the end, was very easy to do.

  44. Mr.Purple says:

    @dandd: Here in NYC I can get a good knockoff for 20$ max.

  45. Crazytree says:

    @JohnnyE: you should be a contributor.

  46. strixus says:

    Best way to deal with credit card debt? Don’t get it in the first place.
    I’m a graduate student – 5 years of under grad, 2 years of grad school. I paid for three semesters of under grad, and one semester of grad school. The rest has been on assistantships and scholarships. I teach and work a second job. I’ve never carried a debt on my credit card (I only have one) for longer than a month, and never more than 200$ Why? I live very modestly, and share expenses with a house full of people who also live within their means. I drive a “clunker” a 10 year old car that I paid less than 2k for. I do all my own automotive work as needed.
    No debt. And more than 35K in savings before I’m 30. And I have GREAT internet and GREAT TV. :P

  47. inelegy says:

    Dump the cell phone and get a landline!

    My landline service rarely exceeds $20/month. Can anyone with a cell phone beat that? If you’re having trouble making your bills this should be job #2, right after dumping cable.

    Chances are your mom and dad raised a family without a cell phone. You can do it to.

  48. raindog says:

    I wonder if a consumer affairs cable TV program would produce the same list, except for substituting “dump the Internet” for “dump cable”.

  49. People, for gods sake, spend as much as you want on whatever you want. Just earn more money. Can’t do it? Quit wasting your time bitchin on the internet and get to work. If you know how to use the internet and can’t make at least 100k today, you’re pathetic. And no I’m not trying to sell you anything on my site, as a matter of fact if you are under 50, you’ll think my site is lame so don’t even bother looking at it. I’m just an old fart who knows the value of hard work and seeing a thread like this just reinforces my belief that if you are broke because of credit card debt, you deserve it.

  50. Crazytree says:

    @thesavvyboomer: you don’t get it… and I’m not saying that in a facetious way.

    the point is that people are earning $50/yr… yet they feel that they DESERVE to live a $150k/yr lifestyle.

    you have people who are paying more for a C-Class than they do for their rent. people who are spending more on a purse than they make in a month.

    too much “entertainment” television… and too much idolization of worthless people like Paris Hilton whose only contribution to society is to promote a “conspicuous consumption” mentality to people who are too stupid to realize that they’re selling themselves into credit card slavery just so they can have the purse that Lindsay Lohan barfed into after a late night partying on Sunset.

  51. Lordstrom says:

    @liquisoft: I am indeed one of those people. I figured out I could pay only half what I would pay Dish in a year for a bunch of season passes for the shows I truly like, with no commercials. Then I discovered I could save even more by watching a bunch of those shows on their websites and only put up with the occasional 30 second commercial(some shows don’t even bother with that).

    It is so much better than having a monthly bill and putting up with crappy receivers and signals and all that nonsense.

  52. night_sky says:

    I find it odd that the article says to get rid of cable because you don’t need it, and in that same paragraph, says get lower internet. Umm, hello? Since when did the internet become a necessity? Unless that’s where you’re making your income from, it should be out the door as well! I have friends who don’t have net or cable and they get along fine without either. Yes, life is possible without it. I know, it’s shocking.

  53. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s a shame these guys won’t have cable, since watching Weeds is built around a great concept to economize certain areas of your monthly budget…

  54. nardo218 says:

    Consumerist, is it necessary to be this condescending and vindictive?

  55. 40mpgYaris says:

    Personally, I love The Dave Ramsey Show. “The debt snowball”…pay off one card then put more and more money onto the other cards/debts.
    I think personal finance should be obligatory in every high school.
    I don’t have cable, rabbit ears pull in everything I have time to watch. I started smoking cheaper cigarettes, don’t drink. I bought a smaller more efficient car. Programmable thermostats. Make coffee at home instead of buying it on the way to work.
    About the internet…dial-up is too torturous, and if you thing about it, high speed is relatively cheap never ending entertainment. Throw in a little piracy, and hell, it’ll pay for itself.

  56. aikoto says:

    High speed Internet is a MUST. With it, you can watch most of your favorite shows on the network’s own sites. If not, just rent the DVD’s when they come out later. Or have a friend tape it and watch it at their house every now and then (or just borrow it).

    One thing they forgot to mention was to cancel yoru cellphone. I’m guessing most people have forgotten that it’s just a convenience and not a necessity.

    I agree with all these other comments except that eating out once or twice a month is still ok in my opinion. But you should definitely brown-bag your lunches at work/school.

  57. Hambriq says:

    6. Stop smoking.

    Here, where cigs are between 5 and 7 dollars a pack, I saved 200 bucks between my fiancee and myself by quitting smoking. That right there takes care of cable, gym membership, and the difference between a good car and a crappy one.

  58. JanetCarol says:

    We just canceled our cable – it was so expensive. And really pointless now that most major networks stream their hit shows weekly. If not – we will wait 8 months until the show’s full season is out on DVD

  59. @Crazytree: Seconded about the Dooney & Bourke logo bags, however their croc-embossed bags are really cute.

  60. SadSam says:

    My husband and I paid of $23,500 in credit card debt this year (in 6 mos.) This is what we did.
    (1) Determined how much credit card (and other) debt we had. Created a chart with the balance, the due date, the interest rate, and the minimum payment amount in order from smallest to largest.
    (2) We established a small emergency fund of $1000.
    (3) We cut up all credit cards and switched to cash, we eventually switched to debit cards b/c we found cash too hard to track.
    (4) We tracked our expenses to determine where we were spending money.
    (5) We created a budget for our living expenses bills, our debt payments and then gave ourselves an allowance for misc. spending.
    (6) We drive paid for cars.
    (7) We stopped buying clothes and gifts.
    (8) We set up automatic minimum payments for all debts and we paid extra on the smallest debt. When the first debt was paid off, we rolled the extra payments into the second debt, etc.
    We made paying off our debt the most important goal and every time we plan a purchase we ask whether we really need to do so. We did fund some wants along the way. Any purchase over $300 has to be discussed and agreed upon between the 2 of us.

  61. hollywood2590 says:

    Well since the list is so condescending I won’t feel like an ass for pointing out how shitty it is.

    2) Gym Membership
    Bullshit. Now I know this may change based on where you live, but honestly, a pack of cigs costs $5. The fact that smoking isn’t on the list but this is is retarded.

    Going to the gym has been shown to shrink hunger. Thats right, you’ll save in food cost.

    The gym has cable. There goes any excuse for needing that.

    The gym will most likely increase your general health, limiting medical fees.

    Not everyone lives in a climate where “going outside” is the best option. Cold medicine will probably be as expensive as the gym membership.

  62. I’m guessing most people have forgotten that it’s just a convenience and not a necessity.
    @jeremyduffy: Yeah, it’s pretty convenient not to be SOL when you end up stranded somewhere.

    You can do jumping jacks.
    Doesn’t this assume the person with the gym membership was exercising before they joined? What if the gym itself is the motivation to exercise?

    Also, since you’re going to be eating out less, and sitting on your ass watching cable less, it’ll be easier to lose weight.
    Does sitting on your ass in front of a computer or reading a book burn more calories?

  63. RandomHookup says:


    Fine, if people actually go to the gym. Too many people (and we are talking about those with debt, so they need to look at everything they spend money on) sign up and go 3x a month. They take the elevator up to walk on a Stairmaster. They park as close to the building as they can to avoid exerting themselves. They treat it as a social outing.

    Sure, it’s tough to do some kinds of exercising in all weather and conditions, but there are lots of cheap alternatives that can help those who can’t afford to do it.

  64. Boberto says:

    Buy (even a new car) with cash. Plenty of great low cost economical cars out there.

    Keep your broadband and utilize VOIP over that connection. My internet and VOIP cost about $50/m with unlimited local/LD.

    Get a quality antenna for your TV. I bought a $45 rooftop from radioshack and get 37 channels, most in HD, and ALL for free. I’m probably the only person with an HD TV who doesn’t subscribe to cable/sat.

    The absolute number one rule is to NEVER EVER give your CC or debit card number to ANY one. This practice has always ended up somehow producing monthly ad infinitum in perpetuity charges to a card.

    If you have a monthly charge appearing on your statement, call your CC/bank and tell them it is lost/stolen. Take the new card and destroy it.

  65. Boberto says:

    Or you could just examine the “made in” labels for anything produced in China, and simply negate ALL purchases. You won’t be able to buy anything, from medical supplies to automotive parts. Great advice as we enter into this breathtaking era of Sino-American relations.

  66. theblackdog says:

    I’ll agree with dropping cable. When I was moving into my own place I looked and saw that cable TV and Internet was going to be $110 a month if I wanted more than just broadcast channels and PBS and even with the lowest tiered service. I’d rather fork over $17 a month to Netflix and pay $41 for DSL, then use the extra $52 a month to cover my credit card finance charge.

    Actually, now that I’m done traveling for a while, I’m going to lock my credit card up so that I can’t reach for it in my wallet. If I don’t have the cash, I don’t have it, that’s my own damn problem.

  67. hollywood2590 says:

    @RandomHookup: So people who aren’t in debt should pay to not go to the gym? Of course not. My comment was obviously for people using their memberships, not fat asses who want to feel like their trying. And as I said in the parts of my post you ignored, in the long run the cost of the membership will probably be paid for in saved food and medical costs.

    I noticed you also skipped the part about the cost of smoking (which includes not only cigs but the cost for increased medical bills). Why don’t you respond to the whole post instead of picking and choosing to try and make yourself look big and bad.

  68. babaki says:

    some of you people are crazy. if you just make smart decisions, cut some spending, and commit to paying off your debt you dont have to go crazy. come on, eating only beans???? thats just stupid. there are other ays to save money besides renting a room somewhere and living off beans. some ideas are good. cut your cable to basic, get rid of things you dont use. but some are just silly.

  69. shaygo says:

    these are the things i did to curb daily costs (none of these are relevatory):

    *stopped buying coffee from coffee shops — make your own.
    *cancel magazine subscriptions for entertainment purposes –you can read almost everything on line or duck into a bookstore and read the magazine during your lunck break.
    *speaking of lunch: make. your. lunch.
    *instead of going out to eat with your friends host a pot-luck dinner — chances are they appreciate the money-saving aspect of that.

    and if you are really feeling like you are turning into a monk you can make a deal with yourself — like for every month you save money you can buy a single cd or go to a movie — but always something less than $20 so you are never shooting yourself in the foot by blowing all the money you saved.

  70. theblackdog says:

    If you’re a big book lover, go to the library instead of the bookstore, even better is if the library occasionally holds a book sale. I walked out with a shopping bag full of books last weekend for only $1, and they should last me for at least a year before I have to repeat reading any.

  71. RandomHookup says:


    Wow, it was just a random comment about people wasting money by signing up to gyms. I could have responded to any of the other comments, not just yours.

    Sorry, I didn’t respond to every point. I’ll try harder next time.

  72. vladthepaler says:

    This would also be a good list for anyone who is on welfare or food stamps.

  73. bobblack says:

    How’d I stay out of debt? Plain and simple – I never got a credit card and its one of the smartest things I could have ever done.

    I have a debit/ATM card that works just as well and I only buy something when I have the ability to pay for it outright.

    On top of that, I built up my credit through the only two loans I’ve ever taken out – a car and student loan payments.

    Credit cards are unnecessary if you are good at planning ahead and use self control.

  74. come on, eating only beans????

    @babaki: I think that post was meant in jest. I don’t think the savings would be worth the social embarrassment and stomach pain of constant gas.

  75. BlondeGrlz says:

    I had a student Visa in college that I maxed out decorating my first apartment, and hadn’t managed to make even a dent in two years after graduation. It was about $2500, so not earth shattering, but a lot of money for a poor graduate. I got a part-time weekend job, put every cent of my check towards the card and paid it off after 6-8 months. Then I got my weekends back, cancelled the card and am a much happier person.

  76. forever_knight says:

    @CoffeeCup: that’s some interesting rationalization there!

  77. rdm says:

    I have paid about $22000 of over $30K CC debt. We didn’t not buy a car, or not buy a house, but we cut out drastically the amount of dining out that we did. We kept cable (Satellite) because it’s entertainment that keeps us in the house instead of out spending money. We also do not use any of the CCs (we got a couple when we got our new house to furnish it, no interest over 18 months or whatever, but we did it within a budgeted monthly payment that fit).

    I don’t buy clothes, shoes, or handbags and get by on what I am still paying off. We have a Wii but don’t buy any games for it – we use free trials at gamefly or free coupons at blockbuster to play.

    The single best thing I did for my CC debt is joining CCCS. It cut my interest rates 15-20% in most cases.

  78. tdogg241 says:

    Smoking definitely trumps every item on that list. Smokers with excessive debt get no sympathy from me.

  79. middy says:

    Remember, above all, finances are the most important part of anyone’s life. If you are in debt, you are doomed to a miserable life of constant suffering, so get out of debt fast! Here’s how:

    1. Sell your car. Only shallow people would expect you to commute to work. Get a better job within walking distance of your home.

    2. Stop buying clothes. Learn to darn your own stockings, it’s not that hard. Your clothes have stains? Just buy some black Rit dye and go Goth. Only shallow people would expect you to have nice clothes that aren’t frayed and threadbare.

    3. Forage for your food. City parks and national forests have lots of edible wild berries, fungus and animals for much of the year. Dumpster behind restaurants and grocery stores often have lots of marginally edible “garbage”. Rat traps can “harvest” lots of groceries and can even be adapted to catch pigeons. Also, neighborhood cats leave “leftovers” on their owners’ doorsteps. Waste not, want not.

    4. Cancel your utilities. Sure, you need a house or an apartment, but do you really need electricity, gas or water? You can collect rainwater in a barrel for drinking, and catch the occasional shower at the YMCA. There are plenty of groceries that need no refrigeration or cooking, live on those. An oil lamp for night-time reading is much cheaper than an electricity bill.

    Come on people, once your debt is paid you can live like a civilized person. Until then, you’re no better than an animal. If it were up to me, you’d be kept in a concrete pen in debtors’ prison to be hosed down and fed slop once a day!

  80. LiC says:

    My roommate and I live like Spartans. It’s kind of gross actually because all the food we buy can last at least 2 weeks. But neither of us have a car so no insurance, car payments, parking tags, or gas money. And criminey, we’re only $15k in debt between the two of us!

    Oh God, I’m crying a little bit inside.

  81. Do everything you can yourself: Make coffee at home, cook at home, exercise at home, entertain yourself with crafts and visits with friends instead of bars and movies. Get used to “just looking” when you’re in stores, and not buying anything. If you want to buy something and you don’t need it right this second, make a note (mental or physical) and if you still want it in a month, and it seems worth it, then get it. Don’t “impulse buy” anything, not even a candy bar. Ask yourself if you really need *everything* you’re about to plunk down cash for.

    Another big one, especially if you work in an office, is to BUY USED CLOTHES. By going to different thrift stores, I keep myself in as many nice-looking (often high-end brand-name) work clothes as I want for about $20 a month, sometimes less. Plus, if you have a recreational shopping fetish, thrift stores are a great way to blow off your steam without blowing a fortune.

  82. @middy: Are you high? Or you do you work for a credit card company? (Or both?) I mean, it’s cute comparing being in debt to some sort of human right, and portraying paying off your debt as some cruel and unusual punishment, but really, the only logical conclusion is that you’re either making money off of people’s debt, or you’re batshit crazy. (Or both.)

  83. Myron says:

    Who wrote this post?

    Can we please have fewer personal finance posts? There seems to be an endless rehash of the same information.

  84. merkidemis says:

    Check out DVDs from the library instead of renting. They often have a pretty good selection of mainstream titles (if they aren’t on the shelves, seach the catalog and put holds on the ones you want), and of course have other awesome features like Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Best of all, if you can walk or bike there it’s totally free!

  85. chargernj says:

    2) Gym Membership: Your Excuse: “But, but, but this is my health we’re talking about! I’m fat! I’ll get fatter! I need the gym! I have a contract!”

    If you still live near alma mater your you can often continue to utilize the college gyms and other facilities free or for very little charge.

  86. middy says:

    @Mary Marsala with Fries: What? I was just trying to help with some quick pointers.

    I assure you that I truly believe finances are the most important thing in my life, and that I am somehow, simultaneously, entirely sane.

    Also, I hardly ever work for credit card companies.

  87. aduzik says:

    I started bringing my lunch to work. Instead of spending $7-8 a day, I spend an extra $10 on groceries each week buying stuff to make sandwiches. Instead of spending ~$200/mo on lunch, now I spend $40. That saves me ~$150/mo or $1,800/year. That’s going to save you a ton of interest if you put it toward paying off credit card debt.

  88. aduzik says:

    @merkidemis: Moreover, if you request a DVD the library doesn’t have, they’ll often buy it for you and automatically put it on hold for you when they get it in. I use to work at a public library, and unless it was something that we knew wouldn’t circulate, we’d order it. Just go ask at the circulation desk; they likely have a form you can fill out.

  89. hapless says:

    Gym memberships are a disgusting waste. If you *really* use the gym *that* often, buy a couple of machines for home use!

  90. hoosier45678 says:

    @TechnoDestructo: And if you buy an older model BMW or Lexus or something, people will still think you’re driving an expensive car even if it costs less to buy and maintain than their newer Civic.c

    Cheaper to buy, yes, but I think your numbers are backwards for maintenance. Your BMW with a bad starter is going to need a BMW-priced replacement starter.

  91. Bryan Price says:

    Hmmmm. Going back to the point in my life where I was extremely poor. We’re talking no plastic. At all.

    5) Cable.

    I had a TV?

    4) Eating Out

    I was eating at buffets, and they always lost money on me. Always.

    3) Recreational Shopping

    I did window shopping.

    2) Gym Membership

    Never had one. Didn’t even think about getting one.

    1) Expensive Cars

    $300 was an expensive car to me back then. Got one car totalled (somebody managed to plow into the back of it parked on the street while I was home), and got $150 AND managed to keep the car. Which I sold for even more cash at the time.

    Being poor sucks.

    And I pay off the plastic in full every month — even when it does get maxxed out. The max out was a WTF as I got the bill with it only halfway there. :s It was weird to only have a $10 pay off the next month! Oh, and no fees were incurred. They did bump our max after that.

  92. BugMeNot2 says:

    Get rid of your cable tv and home phone. Keep the high speed internet and use skype and download tv shows and movies over bittorrent.

  93. Heucuva says:

    “Those of you who got yourselves out of credit card debt, which expenses did you cut?”

    I stopped having girlfriends.

    You think it’s funny now, but just think: how much do you spend on your girlfriend each month? Take a moment to add it all up. I bet it’s more than you spend on all your personal expenses combined… food included.

    I’m not saying to stop treating her to dinner and a movie every now and then. I’m saying: quit paying for everything for her. You’ll save a lot of money, even if it means you look like a skinflint.

    If she’s that worried about how much you spend on her, then she’s totally not worth it.

  94. ubuwalker31 says:

    Having successfully helped people to get out of debt, I can say that not only is this list is total B.S., but the tone is condescending and obnoxious.

    Here are the steps to getting out of debt:
    1) Write down everything you’re spending into a spreadsheet. On the Microsoft template page, there is a good detailed budget. Figure out where your money is going and why you are in debt.
    2) Prioritize your expenses. Cutting out the gym might be appropriate for someone who is healthy, but someone who has been ordered by a doctor to exercise in a low impact manner probably should keep the gym membership. Gyms, like the local Y, will often have hardship rates.
    And unless you live in the city, a car is often an essential, non-negotiable expense, so that you can travel to work. And buying the cheapest car isn’t smart, since cheap cars are often dangerous…so a safe used car, that is within your budget, is important.

    3) Stop spending too much on non-essential expenses. Going out to eat once a week is good for your mental well being. Going out four times a week is a waste of money if you can’t afford it. Try saving money shopping at a farmers market.

  95. Atavaka says:

    I’ve put most of these to work with a good deal of success. I realized I was running in to problems after building up around $3200 in credit card debt and opted to put a stop to it before it got any worse.

    I found where I saved the most was in my food expenses. Single servings of sodas from gas stations, single serves of chips, fast food, etc. I cut out almost all of those completely and opted towards buying things in bulk at local food mart. Saves a -lot.-

    I also realized I had more free time than I needed and picked up a second job which I’m devoting solely to paying off that debt. I’m hoping to be out by the end of the year.

  96. regexp says:

    I really wonder who this list is for – its apparently for college students and not people with real jobs and lives.

    re: cable

    I canceled cable/satellite at the beginning of the spring and recently had it turned back on. Need it for the business/finance channels – it still ends up being the most efficient mechanism for getting information since its in the background. And I tried a summer of just internet. It sucks. Watching tv shows and movies on a laptop sucks. Most shows -aren’t- on the internet unless you steal them and that takes a bit of time. The amount of time a tivo saves you is incredible. And reading a website requires you to be engaged – you can’t put it in the background and just tune in when something relevant comes up.

    re: gym

    bullshit. If you have a gym membership and -you use it- do NOT GIVE IT UP! Keeping in shape will save you more money in the long run than anything else on this lame list.

    re: expensive car

    My german made car has broken down -0- times in the 7 years I’ve owned it. Compare that to the shitty cheap cars I owned before that cost me time and money. Negative 30 degrees in the morning in January – that car will start. And its paid off. And getting a job closer to home? I’m a consultant – my job is in my home and the car is required to get to customer sites.

    re: eating out and recreational shopping

    These two are really the same point so the consumerist is cheating (no surprise) and its the only one that’s valid. To get out of debt you need to spend less than you take in and apply that buffer to debt reduction and increasing savings. Shopping and eating out will ring up those bills fast so stop it.

  97. night_rider says:

    The bulk of comments have been about cutting expenses. That’s fine and good but there’s another side to the equation… DO NOT PAY 18% INTEREST TO ANYONE!!

    1. Refinance Your Debt
    Pay neither the 14k or 5k in interest listed in the example above. Get new credit at 0% for a year and move your debt there.

    1.a. Don’t think you can get a 0% offer?
    First go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com and get a copy of your report for free. Go through it and dispute anything that’s incorrect. This is not a pay service but rather the portal used by the bureaus to comply with federal law requiring they give a freebie once per year. No credit score but you will get the report itself.

    1.b Consider a Multiple-Simultaneous Application Strategy
    When the credit card companies pull your bureau the hard pull will not show up till the next day. If you apply for a dozen credit cards at once – especially online – most will pull your bureau that day and not consider the other hard pulls because they’re not there yet. This is useful in getting multiple accounts established.

    1.c. Consider a Multiple Application at the same Card Provider Strategy
    If you do a multiple application strategy successfully at the same card provider you can consolidate those accounts into one another resulting in the aggregate of the two credit lines. If you get approved for 5k and 6k you can consolidate into a single account at 11k.

    1.d. Consider a Business Card
    I’m not talking fraud. How hard is it to have your own legit sole proprietor business? Consult, babysit, rent, whatever. Why business? A business account will normally not show on your personal credit bureau. You’ll improve your score and get more offers by moving that debt off your personal bureau.

    Continue this strategy in 12 month cycles until your debt it paid. Do not be deceived by the free financing you still need to take extraordinary means to get rid of your debt but this method means it will go much faster because you’re not paying a monthly finance charge to carry the debt.

    I also wanted to respond to just a couple prior comments…

    CCCS is great if you’re on the verge of bankruptcy but it does damage your credit score for the next seven years. Much of what they do you can do unless you’re score is already in the dumper. If it is you need to repair it as soon as possible. Make sure you talk to CCCS about reaging your accounts with the bureaus so it begins to heal any past delinquincies.

  98. LikeVid says:

    lol I always say “if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it”.

    People live above their means, and then they constantly want to complain about their predicament. If you’re cash-strapped – here’s some things I have to say:

    1) Television/Internet are luxuries – I know in today’s day it seems like these are must-haves, but please note that public services are available for this. Use the internet for free at universities or at libraries.

    2) HDTV and high impulse products – completely unnecessary, totally frivolous – you don’t need to have them, just because you can put it on lay-away doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

    3) Food – this is possibly one of the biggest problems. People complain about having to eat dog-food because they’re so poor – and I have no sympathy for them – because no one said you had to eat meat with every meal. Meat is expensive, and it was once a luxury that now everyone thinks it only constitutes the meal. If you’re really destitute – eat bread as a meal, eat vegetables.

  99. spideyman says:

    How about….If you don’t have the money in the bank to pay off the credit card balance when it arrives, don’t make the purchase!! That is the only way I will buy anything with my credit card. I am 50, and have no dept at all, and I don’t have a well paying job either. Save for the things you want. Simple as that.

  100. bonsaitree says:

    5 points:

    1. Unless your single and/or live in the city, most people REQUIRE a car if only for emergencies, commuting, and necessary errands.

    2. The long-term health effects of NOT exercising are more of an expense concern for most people than the monthly gym expenses. If and only if you go to the gym at least 4x a week religiously, keep it. Otherwise, drop it and exercise elsewhere.

    3. I would go so far to say it’s IMPOSSIBLE for any reasonably social individual to forego eating out entirely in this day and age. Don’t forget that the most social goodwill in this society is through bonding at work or over the mealtime table. The quickest way to upgrade your income is through contacts generated via that goodwill. The truth is that alcohol in this society is viewed as an essential social lubricant by the vast majority of its members. Unless your a tea totaler, skip on the fancy meals, but don’t skip out on a post-work drink or light luncheon with colleagues or other folks in your industry. The best jobs and investment opportunities are had through word of mouth and social contacts.

    4. Do not sacrifice your professional sartorial appearance–ever. Ideally, you would already own a small, but well-tailored set of classic clothes. If not, a great place to find classic styles is in vintage clothing stores. This applies more for women then men. Unfortunately, a good men’s suit is worth every penny while a cheap suit only serves to totally degrade one’s appearance. If you’re a man fortunate to work in an industry which doesn’t require formal attire or requires a uniform, you’re already saving thousands of dollars a year in dry-cleaning and wardrobe expenses.

    5. The previous 4 points lead up to this one. For most individuals in good health under ~40 years old, the fastest way to get out of debt is NOT only to save more, but to switch jobs or get a second job to EARN more. Expenses are only 1 side of the equation.

  101. rainfever says:

    Shit, the only one that applies to me is #4, and i only eat out at lunch (not saying it wouldn’t help).

    hmmmk, so i guess I’ll have to look a little harder.

  102. jrdnjstn78 says:

    OK if you’re in debt and want to pay it off quickly just convert your ways to how the Amish (no offense intended) live. No electricity, they grow their own food, they stay in shape because they do manual labor (gardening, washing clothes by hand, etc.).

  103. @hapless: That’s assuming 1) there’s space for a couple of machines and 2) you don’t go to the gym for classes.

  104. hustler says:

    the gym is an absolute necessity. I’d rather pay $40 per month and use up 240 hours with the iron over sitting arround spending money on being out of shape.

  105. RandomHookup says:

    Of course, this is sorta preaching to the choir. The people who need to hear this are the ones who have the hardest time listening.

  106. Buran says:

    @BugMeNot2: Riiiiiiight, because doing illegal things is a valid way to save money.


  107. Mary says:

    @GenXCub: Can you tell me how to find out about these seat-filler services? I’m going to Vegas next month and I would LOVE to get to go to a show or two, but can’t really afford it.

  108. Mary says:

    Another good tip if you’re a book lover (other than the obvious library) is PaperbackSwap.com. You get rid of books you’re not reading anymore, and you get new books to read. If you don’t like it after all, swap it back for something else.

    I almost hate to admit it, but I used to spend about $90 at the bookstore every month (though this did include food purchases, and drinks. I worked there, so I often ate there and bought a bagel each morning). Now, I have spent MAYBE $20 in the last two months. But I have new books coming in all the time, and they cost only media mail shipping (about $1-$2 each).

  109. cmaylum says:

    1) internet is an essential for me. I am a software engineer, and frequently work from home on nights or weekends. I also use the internet for research, reading (rather than buying magazines), online billpay (hey, no checks! no stamps!), communication… I know the library has internet, but at 10 o’clock at night?
    2) YOU DO NOT NEED CABLE!!!! “I work hard and need to relax, and would spend more on dvd rentals or at bars without it”, seriously???? rabbit ears, you can still get network tv if you need it that bad, and reading is far more relaxing than tv, so is playing games with friends rather than going to bars, having a conversation, taking a free class…. the library near my house has free dvd rentals, most libraries charge fifty cents or a dollar for dvds….
    3) all of the points are excellent!!!! I hear those excuses every day!!!
    4) You shouldn’t be purchasing big ticket items if you have a credit card balance. I do own some expensive things, like a coach purse, paid for in cash, purchased at a point in time when I did not have a credit card balance, as a gift to myself for getting my diploma (in computer science). I have had it for three years, it is good as new, and keeps me from wanting to buy some cheap new purse every season. And it sure helps jazz up the same dang clothes I wear all the time… so I can pay off my current credit card balance…
    5) gym membership… well, if you use it, keep it! but only if you seriously use it at least 3 times a week! otherwise you’re just throwing money down the drain… and even if you do use it…perhaps explore free alternatives if they available.. are you using classes like yoga, and the pool? that’s worth it. but weights? you can get those used cheap. Treadmill? go outside. bicycle? go outside….

  110. chantastic says:

    While I agree with this list in principle it is extremely misguided.

    Personal finance is behavioral. At the same time, getting out of debt can take a long, long time. Some people can cut that time a bit by living in the dark and eating nothing but ramen. But most people, they will try it, make some progress for a bit, but over time, burn out and then just go right back to where they started.

    It’s like losing weight, really. Some people can ditch 100% of unhealthy food, and run a miillion miles a day. Most people, though, cannot. They will try it, make some progress, but then they are miserable, they miss pizza or whatever, then go right back to square one.

    Some people really enjoy their gym membership, you know? If you are serious about getting out of debt you will find the places you can sacrifice. There’s usually plenty of ways (another one: going out to a bar or club is really, really expensive). Or you can figure out a way to get promoted or get a raise and grow your way out of the problem.

    Posting a hard and fast list is simple-minded and condescending.

  111. richcreamerybutter says:

    @bonsaitree: I like your post, because it emphasizes moderation and takes personal circumstances into consideration.

    No set of “rules” is one size fits all, since everyone’s living situations varies widly. For instance, I find it smug and presumptuous when one insists the rest of us have no need for a mobile phone, only a land line. For me this is completely the opposite; why keep a land line when only telemarketers call me here? What good is it going to do when I need to take a call while not at home?

    On the other hand, I can gloat about not needing an automobile, since I have great public transporation.

    It’s all about moderation – just don’t spend money on thing you don’t need, and be wise. You don’t have to live like a pauper…by the way, a flask is also great if you want to save money!

  112. bonsaitree says:

    Thanks for the kind words @RICHCREAMERYBUTTER .

    Many moons ago, I used to work for an accounting & law firm where the partners did some pro bono credit counseling work. I’m actually a software engineer by trade.

    One of the biggest lessons learned was that most folks are in financial trouble because they simply don’t keep track of their money. Some people were simply “poor” and others were in debt due to medical expenses. Still, these people were the exception rather than the rule.

    It was a real learning experience to sit across the table from well-educated and otherwise brilliant artists, scientists, lawyers, and professionals who were under mountains of debt and had seriously bad (scores <~ 500) credit.

    For most of them, they got “used to” being in debt due to college loans and, since they were making good salaries, never gave budgeting a second thought. Everything was on “autopay” and they hardly ever looked at their account balances.

    The senior partner in the firm used to advise strongly AGAINST anyone, initially, setting a budget because most of them didn’t have ANY idea where their money went.

    He advised them as a “Step 0.” to simply keep track of EVERY expense for 1 month (or even as little as 2 weeks + utilities & mortgage/rent) and then give us the list. After we visualized the numbers to show them where all the money was going, we could begin to construct a debt plan and budget for them.

  113. progamer76002 says:

    wow, i got 3 pages into this thread, and have come across some interesting points. IDK if anyone else does it this way but in regards to dropping cable and watching your shows online…

    I got Mozilla Firefox, added the addon called “Adblock Plus” and was able to watch all those online shows with the “limited commercial breaks,” commercial free.

    I now catch up on entire series worth of shows, like “Battlestar Galactica,” “Lost” etc, that i otherwise would never have been able to get into because i wasn’t able to see it from the beginning, best part of it is i don’t even bother with the tv set anymore.

  114. Anonymous says:

    Get rid of your phone bill by using magicjack- $19.00 per year! My wife loves the high dollar pocket books but I bought two LV’s recently, one at auction for $10.00 and another at a yard sale for $1.00. Just bought a pair of docker shoes like new for $1.00 at a flea market and a great pair of jeans for $1.00, three shirts that look like new for me for $1.00. It can be done!

  115. Anonymous says:

    Start a cash only plan. If you are using credit cards to pay for gas, groceries, utilities, etc… then you are living beyond your means. Credit card users spend more than those who use cash.

    Write down an budget and stick to it. Tweak it when you need to. Make sure you are putting money away for an emergency fund.

  116. Anonymous says:

    My advice is to sell things you don’t use anymore (and things you probably bought with your credit cards in the first place) on ebay (or craigslist which is free, but it usually only sells to locals who are willing to come pick stuff up), and put the money you make back towards the credit cards. You’d be surprised what people buy, even broken electronics sell because people who know how to fix them are willing to buy them. Also, I recommend not putting ALL your money towards your credit cards, set a little aside each month for emergencies rather then using your credit card for emergencies, because otherwise you’re just depending on your credit cards which is what got you in the credit card mess in the first place. The way I see it, it’s worth it to pay an extra $15 a month in interest to be able to have a little bit of savings set aside. I also recommend a 2nd job, even if it’s just part time. My first job pays my monthly bills, gas, food, and a little savings, and my 2nd job (part-time) money I put towards my credit cards. I push myself to make $1000 payments by using my savings. For example if I only make $800 a month at my second job, I’ll take $200 out of my savings to make a $1000 payment. Lastly, ALWAYS make a payment that is more then the interest incurred. For example, if you get your bill and the interest for that month is $70, paying only $70 or less than that isn’t going to make your full balance go down. :(

  117. RoadOutOfDebt says:

    “But, but, but this is my health we’re talking about! I’m fat! I’ll get fatter! I need the gym! I have a contract!” – it’s not true. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you really want to get in a better shape exercise at home or go running, you will get the same results and save money.