Do you ever feel like bills run your life?
It’s an endless cycle. You’ve got bills. So you work. You get paid. You pay your bills. More bills come in. So, you work some more. But, the bills just keep coming. Your cable bill goes up, then your electric bill jumps. But, your pay stays the same. It seems like there’s no end in sight. Your sole purpose in life is to pay bills.
How do you break this cycle and get control? When do you work for more than just your bills? Well, you can’t just ignore them and hope they go away by themselves, because they won’t. You have to take action.
Make a list
Start by simply making a list of all your bills. Seeing all your bills on paper can be frightening. But you may have forgotten about some of them or you may have just convinced yourself that some of them didn’t exist. Putting things in writing is a great way to be honest with yourself. Keeping track of bills in your mind, it’s easy to fudge the numbers and play games with the truth. But, putting actual pen to paper makes it little more difficult to lie to yourself.
Look for easy wins
Now that you have all your bills out there on a piece of paper, take a good look. Is there anything on that list you don’t need are could easily live without? Maybe you forgot you had an old magazine subscription you’re still paying for or maybe you have a membership to that fancy gym in the high-end part of town that you’ve only been to once in the last 6 months.
Now pick off the medium wins
Is there anything you could trim down? Maybe downgrade your internet speed one level. Or, cut out one or two restaurant meals every week. I’m not talking about anything extreme. Just small changes you could make to your lifestyle that would be fairly easy to adapt to.
Add a little elbow grease for some tough wins
Are there any bills you might be able to re-negotiate. Cable is usually a good candidate. Every cable company offers deals. It might be worth your time to call up and see if the person on the phone can hook you up with one of those specials. Insurance is another bill that can be trimmed with a little research and a couple of phone calls. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Is there another insurance company out there that can give you a lower rate on your car insurance? Maybe. But, you won’t know unless you shop.
Be cautious about cold turkeys
Some people take one look at their bills and are so disgusted, they think they need to completely cut out all restaurants, cut out TV completely, go to the library to use the internet, and sell their car so they can start riding their bike to work everyday. It’s called going cold-turkey and it might work for some people. But, chances are, you’re actually setting yourself up for failure. it’s like dieting. If you start out by completely cutting out entire food groups and chopping your calories in half, you’ll probably run right back to the food a few months later. On the other hand, if you approach your diet with slow, gradual, measured changes, your chances of succeeding in the long-run become much better.
Once you have all your bills written down and you’ve gone through the list with a fine-toothed comb. You should find some extra money you didn’t know you had. You can actually start setting some money aside for things like emergencies, your next car, travel, or retirement. You’re no longer trapped working for your bills.