Radical Simplicity and a Beautiful, Messy Life

101 Ways to Save Money and Pay Down Debt

Save Money and Repay Debt

We are in debt. Like, think of what most people would consider a lot of debt.  And then double it.  And then double it again.  Possibly double it one more time.  That's how much debt we are in.

 We spent years in survival mode, wrestling with mental illness and addiction and untreated trauma, and convenience had become king.  We had stopped even opening our credit card statements because the situation was so bleak.

And then we hit a financial bottom.  We either needed to address the debt situation we'd been avoiding or we were going to lose our house.  Nothing changes if nothing changes. 

We had the option of rolling it all into a 30 year mortgage.  But some quick calculations revealed that going that route would cost us tens of thousands of extra dollars in interest than just buckling down and paying off the debt using the snowball method.

This is not for the faint of heart.  We aren't talking about opting out of a few lattes a week.  Our whole life has changed in order to pay down this debt in as few years as possible. 

Here are 101 Ways to save money and pay down debt!


1. Add some meatless meals to your week. 

2. Price match.  
You can even use an app on your phone for this.  We use the Flipp app.

3. Clip coupons. 
But don't buy coupon books unless you are sure you will save more thank you will spend.

4. Turn fridge odds and ends into soup before they go bad.

5. Cut back on food waste by having a leftovers night once a week. 
At our house we call this tour de frigo.

6. Check Amazon for lower prices.
 See if you can buy things like pet food, diapers and toiletries for cheaper than your local grocery store.

7. Make your own spice mixes for pennies.
For a DIY taco seasoning, combine 1 Tbsp Chili powder, 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes and oregano, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper

8. Eat less treats and snacks. 
(It's healthier too!)

9. Buy meat on sale and freeze it.

10. Buy produce that is reduced for quick sale and use it up that day.

11. Shop in bulk.

12. Get a Costco membership.

13. Pay attention to prices.  
Sometimes the bigger package isn't actually cheaper.

14. Buy a half or quarter cow from a local farmer.

15. Grow a vegetable garden.
If you don't know how, start small.

16. Shop with the calculator on your phone out so that you can stay within your budget

17. Bake your own bread

18. Do batch cooking to save on electricity costs and to make the best use of sale prices. 

19. Stop buying boxed mixes.
They've literally just done the easiest part of baking for you, mixing the dry ingredients.

20. Don't buy microwave popcorn. 
You can make popcorn in a pan for pennies.

Personal Care

21. Save on salon costs by growing out your hair.  
Grey is in right now anyways!  

22. Cut your own hair. 
Find how-to videos on youtube

23. Get discounted haircuts at a hairdressing school.

24. Get dental work done at a local dental school for cheaper.

25. Pluck or wax your own eyebrows.
Again, check youtube for how-to's if you need 'em.

26. Be mindful of how much toothpaste, body wash and shampoo you use.  
Stop pouring money down the drain!

27. Teach your kids to use 2-3 squares of toilet paper. 
Rather than the eleventy billion they are currently using. 

28. Switch from body wash to a bar of soap.

29. Use cloth menstrual pads

30. Or switch to a diva cup
(I'm not that frugal yet!)

32. Keep your makeup routine to the basics.  
You look better with less makeup anyways, and you'll save money.


33. Shop at thrift stores in your community

34. Shop online resale sites

35. Clean out your closets.
And sell what you don't need in order to buy what you do.  It's like free clothes.

36. Stay away from trends.
They are designed to change seasonally and make your wardrobe obsolete.  Stick to your favorite tried and true basics. 

37. Buy well built clothes that will last.

38. Mend torn clothing instead of discarding it.


39. Make your own laundry detergent.

40. Wash laundry in cold water.

41. Line dry your clothing.

42. Buy a kit to vent your dryer inside for the winter.
Instead of sending all that warm, moist air outside.

Travel Cost

43. Bicycle places to save money on gas

44. Use a gas price app to locate the cheapest gas near you.

45. Carpool.

46. Drive the speed limit. 
It's better for gas mileage and prevents costly speeding tickets

47. Make sure your car tires are properly inflated.
It helps with gas mileage.


48. Save on your heating bill by turning down your heat at night.

 49. Also, turn down the heat if you will be away from home all day.

50. Reserve A/C for only the hottest of days

51. Unplug electronics when not in use.
They draw phantom energy even when you aren't using them.

52. Only run the dishwasher when it's full.

53. Turn off the lights when you aren't using them. 

54. Cancel cable.  
Netflix has plenty of great content for a very reasonable price.

55. Cancel your home phone.  
You're paying for a cell phone anyways.

56. Shop around for cheaper internet service. 

57. Or call your internet provider and insist on a better price.
Often they will comply in order to keep your business. 

58. Scale back the data plan on your cellphone.

59. Shop around for cheaper car insurance.

60. Insulate your water heater.

61. Take shorter showers.

62. Better yet, shower with your spouse.


63. Pay your bills on time to avoid penalties 
This means getting your finances in order and actually opening your mail!

64. Switch to paperless billing. 
There is often a fee for paper bills. 

65. Call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. 
They lowered ours from 19.99% to 13.99% and it only took 5 minutes.

66. Switch to a banking plan with lower monthly fees.  

67. Or better yet, switch to a company that offers zero fee bank accounts. 

Shopping Online

68. Combine orders with friends when shopping online to save on shipping costs.

69. Plan for events and holidays in advance.
So that you never have to pay extra for expedited shipping.

70. Always check for a promo code before buying online.  
Do a google search for the store name and the words "promo code" and see what you can find.

Social Life

71Host a potluck instead of a dinner party. 
It's just as much fun, and the cost of food isn't all on you. 

72. Limit eating out at restaurants to a bare minimum.

73. Take your significant other on coffee dates rather than dinner dates.

74. Volunteer at events in exchange for free admission.

75. See if your local theater sells discounted tickets for a preview show or dress rehearsal prior to opening night. 


76. Trade babysitting with other moms instead of paying for a sitter.

77. Keep birthdays and holidays simple.
The dollar store is your friend!

78. Use cloth diapers.

79. Sign them up for free or cheap activities in your community.

80. Pack road snacks for long trips.
So that you don't end up hitting up a drive-through out of desperation to appease grumpy kids!

Miscellaneous Expenses

81. Carry a travel mug instead of getting drive-through coffee.

82. Carry a refillable water bottle instead of buying wasteful bottled water.

83. When possible, take 3 or more days to consider a purchase. 
Sometimes with enough time a "need" reveals itself to really be a "want".

84. Stop buying magazines.
They are costly and designed to make you want more stuff.

85. Borrow books from friends or libraries instead of buying them.

86. Borrow tools and yard care items from neighbours instead of buying them. 
 Return the favour by generously sharing the items you have that they don't. 

87. Check your local freecycle group for items you need before purchasing them.

88.  Get your pet their rabies shots at a discounted price by asking your vet about annual rabies clinics in your area. 

89. Ask your pharmacist about the generic versions of any medications you are on. 
They can be a fraction of the price.

90. Buy prescription eye wear online at a fraction of the cost at your local optometrist.

91. Sign up for customer reward programs and collect points anywhere you can.
But DON'T fall for their "if-you-spend-so-much-you-get-double-the-points" schemes unless you actually need the items!

92. Exercise for cheap or free.
Walk, run, bicycle, follow along to youtube workout videos instead of paying for an expensive gym membership.

93. Or get a discounted membership at the YMCA.  Many branches offer a lowered price if you can show financial hardship.

94. Watch for sales on items in the weeks after you've bought them.  
Often if you return to the store with the receipt you can get a refund to account for the sale price. I just did this today and got 15 dollars back on a can of paint.

95. Give DIY gifts. 

96. Shop your home.  
Sometimes when you think you need something new you can just re-purpose something you have. 

97. Compost and recycle religiously in order to reduce garbage disposal costs

98. Pack a lunch.

Lifestyle and Attitude

99. Be content with what you have.

100. Sell your stuff.  
Choose to live without luxuries until you can buy them debt free.
101. Build a life you don't need a vacation from.


  1. All so true Kelly. We have become an instant society but we can do things differently and do without in so many cases. Sometimes it's hard to initiate but well worth it in the end. Go for it Girl!

  2. Do you use Checkout 51? A few friends have gotten decent money back for buying grocery and personal care items. It's a bit clunky in my opinion but it's a great idea.