Step Six: Find Extra Cash
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If you found a $100 bill lying around on the ground, what would you do with it? Share a nice dinner with a friend? Buy a new outfit? Or, put it toward your debt?
Hopefully by this point in your boot camp, you answered “put it toward my debt.”
Paying off debt can seem an overwhelming challenge and this itself discourages people from making little choices that can add up? If I have thousands of dollars in debt, why should I put that $100 toward my debt when it seems so insignificant? The simple truth is that great things are usually done as a series of small steps but unless we can take the small steps, we never get to the great thing.
Here are a series of small steps that you can take. Each will matter over time.
Cut recurring spending
Famous bank robber Willie Sutton once told a report that he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” We hear a lot about cutting discretionary spending (the “latte effect”) but for most people the money isn’t in impulse spending, it’s in big, recurring expenses—decisions we made a long time ago but just keep paying month after month.
- Look at your rent: Can you realistically afford what you’re paying, given your other expenses? If not, consider cheaper alternatives. Active military families can often save significantly by living on-base.
- Examine recurring service plans such as cable TV, cell phone service, exchange deals, or living off base. Downgrade your plans or cancel your service altogether. Be bold and experiment—you can always add it back later if you find you couldn’t live without it.
Any extra dollars you get from reducing monthly expenses or increases from your base or special pay and allowances should be put toward your debt repayment plan. The goal of uncovering additional sources of cash is to use that money to get out of debt faster.
Find additional sources of cash
- Turn clutter to Cash: Go through your household and sell items lying around that you never use.
- Improve your pay grade. You may be able find additional sources of cash by volunteering for an assignment or going back to school to receive certain qualifications that would result in more pay. Explore all the options available to you within the military.
Keep plugging away
At this point, you’re nearing completion of your basic training. But as any good serviceman knows, basic training is just the beginning. Take these principles and use them to pay off your debt and to stay debt free. Life without debt is brighter and better.
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