One of the secrets to paying off debt is that instead of living within your means, you should strive to live beneath your means. I am planning on a series of articles to help define where changes can be made and provide some suggestions to help acheive the goal. Details and other ideas can be found athttp://www.debtreduction101.com/. One of the easiest places to change your habits to qualify as beneath your current means is shopping. For a lot of people this can be further scrutinized to be clothes shopping. Let me get to the article...
If you are trying to live beneath your means, you should not dress above your means. This does not mean that you should sell all of your fine jewelry or any nice clothes that you currently own, although that may prove more useful than having the items sit around in your closet forever. What I mean is that you must curb your spending on any new clothes to the bare minimum. Once you adjust your budget to reflect less discretionary spending, you will use the extra money to help with your goal of reducing your debt. This should then logically progress from clothes to shopping in general.
Starting with the clothes, you do not really need to have new outfits. You want them. You do not need new shoes unless your only pair is detrimental to your feet. It is more important to lower the amount of money that you are losing each month to interest than it is that you have a nice new outfit to wear to work, school, or Church. The objective here is to pay off your debt as aggressively as possible. This is easier to do if you are not going to the mall spending money that you should be sending toward your highest interest debt. So in the short term your wardrobe should not see any new items. That is not to say that until you have reduced your debt you have to dress like a street urchin.
For men this is easy, we only need a few pairs of pants and a few shirts because most of our clothes mix and match. Women will have to learn to be a bit more creative with accessories if they want to vary their ensembles. Once you have controlled your spending on clothes, you can move on to other items that you want but do not need. First off if you are serious about reducing your debt and you want to meet that goal as soon as possible, you do not need to belong to any purchasing clubs, be it for DVDs, music CDs, books, or whatever.
Anything where you are tempted to make a purchase on a regular basis via email, or your mailbox should be avoided. This includes movie rental agreements where you pay a monthly fee to have borrowed movies sent to you. If you have the option to do so with no penalty, you should cancel all of these memberships immediately. Even if you are getting a CD that is $18 in the stores for an average price of $10, that is still $10 that you could pay towards reducing your debt, not to mention the interest that you save. You can also call the customer service number on the sales magazines that you get in the mail and have them take your name and address off of their mailing list. It is too easy to flip through a catalog and see something that you want on sale and forget that even that lower price is more than you want to spend right now.
Your new attitude of not spending money on wants must become a habit if you are going to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. Exceptions to this rule could be made as a reward. For instance, you could buy an inexpensive item from your want list when you pay off a credit card or loan. This will give you incentive to work just as hard or harder to pay off the next. Once you have paid off all of your debt you should attempt to continue to maintain limits on your want buying. The extra money could then be put away to add to your retirement savings.