Small Changes Add Up Quickly When Paying Off Your Debt

Are you ready to pay off your debt but have no clue where to start? 

Read the first post in my series about paying off your debt, then read through this series until you get to this post, our fifth in the series.

So far you’ve committed to getting rid of consumer debt for good and changing your mindset to successfully pay off your debt.

You’ve also you’ve figured out why you’ve incurred the debt you have, either because of a life changing event or a money sinkhole, and you’ve tracked your income and expenses.

Now it’s time to take some action and start making real changes in your financial life.

Why You Should Start With The Little Things

The most important part of paying off your debt is permanently changing your mindset to one that allows you to live within your means. If you start making drastic changes immediately, you might end up in a situation much like a yo-yo diet.

Instead of pushing yourself to the limit by completely changing your life all at once, you should start with the little things and gain momentum as you get further along in your debt pay off journey.

What Are The Little Things?

Great question! The little things are whatever you see in your historical expenses that you wouldn’t mind getting rid of or scaling back on. Unfortunately, every person is different so I can’t tell you exactly what to cut.

However, there are quite a few expenses many people would never miss.

Some Expenses You Probably Won’t Miss

Stupid fees are one expenses that absolutely no one would miss.

Quit incurring fees from over-drafting your bank account, making late payments or little fees that provide no value to you whatsoever. Pay more attention to your finances and you could save hundreds in this category in just a couple short months.

Another trick companies use to take your money is the subscription model. You have the best intentions when you signed up for the gym or those magazines sitting unread on your end table, but you never really got around to taking advantage of your subscription services.

Instead of letting subscriptions continue to take your money month after month, simply cancel these services. There may be termination fees, but if you’ll save money in the long run by cancelling now, generally it is best to pay the fee and get it over with.

Another way to make a small change is to simply cut back a little bit on your every day expenses. Decide on a percentage you’re comfortable with and reduce your spending in some of the categories you know you overspend in.

It might be clothing, dining out, or buying gourmet groceries. Regardless of which expenses you decide to cut back just a little bit on, it’ll all add up in the long run.

Some Little Actions You Can Take To Save Some Major Money

Believe it or not, there are some simple actions you can take that won’t change how you live your life at all but these actions will save you a ton of money.

My personal favorite is called “the ask”. All you have to do is call up a service and ask for a discount. You’d be surprised how often it works.

One example of “the ask” that I use every few months is calling my cable company and asking for a discount. Whenever they try to increase my rate, I simply call and ask for a discount.

Sometimes I have to ask to talk to a supervisor or the customer retention department, but I’ve received a discount every time I asked! This discount has ranged anywhere from $120 to over $600 per year! That’s a lot of money when you’re trying to get out of debt.

Another great way to use “the ask” is to lower your interest rates on your credit card debt. Many times, if you simply call your credit card company and ask them to reduce your interest rate they’ll comply.

Make sure to highlight why they should lower your rate. Explain to them that you’ve made the last year’s worth of payments on time and you’ve been a customer for 5 years.

What Should You Do With All Of The Money You Save?

If you’re now spending less than you earn and these techniques have saved you even more money, I bet you’re thinking that you should use this money you saved to immediately pay down your debt.

There is a better place to put at least a little bit of that money. Read about it here.

What little expenses have you been able to reduce or completely cut out without missing them? Any big win stories on using “the ask”? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I have no idea why anyone in in this day and age would have a subscription to a magazine or newspaper when they can get the majority of the content free online or totally free at the library. To me, it’s the biggest money waster out there!

  2. Well Michelle, I’m one of those people who subscribe to magazines. I enjoy them. And I don’t like sitting in front of a computer screen to read the articles (financial blogs excepted!) I subscribe to cooking magazines and like to tear out the recipes that have pictures of the finished product. I don’t want to print them off the computer because that wastes color ink cartridges. And I subscribe rather than purchasing at the book store because it is cheaper than the newsstand price. I am however letting some subscriptions expire as I am losing interest in some of the magazines.

  3. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    We reduced our TV service to basic (we don’t get very good over-the-air reception). We got rid of the phone land line. And I call the Internet/cable company once a year to reduce our fees. Other than our mortgage, we have never been in debt, so money saved on monthly expenses stays in our bank account and eventually ends up being invested.

  4. We have used the ask before with the cable company and gotten some discounts.

  5. My favorite “little change” I ever made was cutting cable. That saved me $70 per month on something that I didn’t use all that much. When I got rid of it, I had more motivation to go out and be social with people, which was worth a lot more than $70 per month to me. I’ve saved thousands of dollars since I cut the cord and my life has been so much better!

  6. Janet Fazio says:

    I’ve done the cable company ask several times over the course of the years, and they are always happy to do it. Also check your cell phone. If you don’t use a lot of minutes/data you can usually go into a less expensive plan.

  7. Yes! This is great. Another thing I have done is cut what I think I need/use (like cable, subscriptions I think I read but really don’t) and from there, add back what I actually miss having. For a while I shut off my cable and then realized I missed watching the sports channel, but several magazine subscriptions I never added back.


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