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Getting Out of Debt One Penny at a Time

Jun 10, 2008
If you are a stay at home mom burdened by debt, and spend most of your waking minutes worried and stressed about your financial situation, you should know that there are simple ways most families can payoff debt.

It does not happen overnight, but if you work towards this form of debt management, every stay at home mom can eventually become out of debt.

First you will need to keep a record or ledger that shows every time you receive money (such as payday), and every time you spend money. You should include every expense, no matter how small; if you spend 39 cents on a pack of gum, write it down.

You and your spouse need to do this together - make sure you each carry a notebook in your car so you can track every purchase, and make a point of sitting down together each night and updating your ledger. This doesn't have to be done forever, just a couple weeks.

After a week or two you should start to see your spending patterns emerge. Most unnecessary spending is for convenience items and impulse buys; coffee every morning, fast food twice a week, take out or pizza delivery on the weekend. These are small expenses at first glance, but over a month's time the add up to quite a bit.

Luxury items like liquor or cigarettes can hike your monthly spending as well. Now might be the perfect time to quit, and cutting out those trips to the mall that always culminate in a purchase "too good to pass up" might be a good idea too.

Just because an item is on sale, doesn't mean you need to buy it!

Whenever you make a choice NOT to purchase something you want, note the amount you saved by not buying it in your notebook, with a star beside it to indicate money you saved by not yielding to temptation. When you are entering your day's expenses in the ledger that night, put the amount you saved in an envelope or a jar with a piece of paper taped to it. Add up your savings and watch them grow day by day.

There are other ways to cut down on excess spending in your day to day life. You can try to cut down on unnecessary trips that eat up your gas budget. Plan your route to make all your stops in one run, and see your charges at the pump decrease. Brown bag it to work, and pack your children's school lunches - it's healthier anyway!

Your monthly bills can usually be tweaked, too. Cut down on electricity costs by keeping the thermostat set a few degrees higher or lower than you usually do, switch to lower wattage or energy saving light bulbs and turn off lights in empty rooms. You can conserve water by taking shorter showers, and by not leaving the water steadily running when washing dishes or brushing teeth.

Shop your phone service around, and see if you can get a better rate. Most people never use all the features that phone companies try to package with service, so see if you can switch to a smaller plan. Do the same thing with your cable service, if any; a little less television never hurt anybody.

Now it's time to payoff debt! Once you have added up your savings at the end of the month, take that extra amount and apply it to your debt with the smallest total remaining balance.

Do this monthly until it is paid in full, then start on the next creditor. It will take time and diligence, but it has a snowball effect; as you pay off each debt your amount of extra cash on hand will increase, so each successive creditor is paid off faster.

You can truly use your pennies to get out of debt! This form of debt management has proven successful again and again, and whole families can participate. Getting out of debt is completely possible for most stay at home moms; all it takes is a little extra effort and a good dose of will power.
About the Author
Rayven Perkins has been a stay at home mom, surviving on one income, for over 8 years. Visit her site Debt Advice for SAHMs for more important information about consumer debt and ways to reduce your expenses.
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