No one wants to fall into debt, but sadly this can be easier said than done. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to avoid living in the red.
Here are 15 smart spending habits, budgeting tips, and money-saving strategies that can help you stay out of debt.
1. Make shopping lists (& stick to them)
Before heading out to run errands, write down what you need. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. Cutting back on impulsive purchases can help keep your spending in check.
2. Talk about money
Even if one person in a relationship tends to handle financial matters, it’s crucial for both people involved to know what’s going on. Take time to chat about your financial goals, priorities and struggles so you can help each other stay on track.
This tip goes beyond love and money: Talking to your peers about something you all deal with — money — can expose you to new ways of thinking about personal finance or help you find answers to questions you never knew you had.
3. Maintain good credit
A good credit score can save you on everything from interest rates on loans and credit cards to cable TV subscriptions, phone plans and insurance policies.
If your credit is looking rusty, you can improve your scores by paying down big credit card balances, limiting new credit inquiries and disputing any errors on your credit reports.
4. Use a budgeting app
There are plenty of free apps out there that can help you establish a monthly budget based on how much money you have coming in and what you typically put your dollars toward. These apps will keep you on top on how you’re doing over the course of the month and let you know if you’re going in the red.
5. Try sticking to cash
You can’t overspend cash — once that $30 in your wallet is gone, it’s gone. So you can spend it on one dinner out or you can buy groceries that will give you a week’s worth of lunch. That’s up to you.
6. Make coffee at home instead of stopping at the shop
This one can be a big challenge — your favourite coffee shop’s menu is so much more elaborate than what you can do at home. But even cutting back on your shop visits a couple of times each week can give your bank account some extra breathing room.
7. Turn off instant online ordering
Having 1-Click or a similar service turned on with your Amazon or other online account sure makes it easy to order those new shoes you just don’t feel you can live without. It’s just too easy. Problem is, this quick and easy purchasing tool can really damage your budget if you aren’t careful. Giving yourself a few more steps to make an order happen can give you a moment to decide if you really need the item.
8. Unsubscribe to emails that alert you of sales
Your closet is full of T-shirts and shoes, but when that comes in practically shouting at you about a deal, how can you refuse? These purchases may be OK and even fun every once and awhile when your wallet allows, but had you not known of this sale, you may not have ventured to the store. Imagine if this happens every time you get one of these emails. Save yourself the temptation (and the inbox space) and unsubscribe.
9. Cancel the memberships you don’t use
Whether you’re not using your gym membership or you only use one streaming service versus all the ones you’re paying for, it’s a good idea to look at the subscription fees you’re paying and see if there are any you could eliminate.
10. Visit the library instead of buying books
Your library card is probably the only plastic in your wallet that won’t hurt you, no matter how many times you swipe it at the register. If you don’t have one, or the one from your childhood expired, consider getting a new one. Libraries are full of books and movies you can borrow for free.
11. Remember the Wi-Fi
It’s a good idea to always connect to your home and office Wi-Fi to reduce your phone’s data usage. Doing so can avoid getting hit with hefty overuse fees on your bill. And you also may be able to take advantage of reputable free Wi-Fi hotspots. Just make sure the network you’re hopping on is secure.
12. Pay your credit card balances more than once a month
It can be all too easy to rack up credit card debt, given how simple it is to swipe your plastic and not think about those purchases until the very end of the month. But to avoid running up a balance you can’t pay off in full, consider paying your balance down every week or even every day from a linked debit card account.
13. Tell your credit card to holler at you
You can also ask your credit card or debit card to let you know when you’re about to do something costly. Many issuers let cardholders set up spend alerts that will text or email them when they’re bumping up against their credit limit, about to miss a payment or have even have made a purchase over a certain amount.
14. Prioritise credit card payments
If you do wind up carrying balances on a bunch of credit cards, you may be able to pay your debts down faster by prioritizing payments. Make the minimums on all your cards, and put more money toward the card with the lowest balance or the one carrying highest the annual percentage rate. The former can be a great motivator, while the latter can keep your debts from snowballing.
15. Get a side gig
In case you haven’t heard, the gig economy is real and thriving. These days, savvy side hustlers are earning some dough by sharing their rides, starting a blog, running tasks for others, bidding for freelance work — you name it. If spending less isn’t curbing your debts, you may want to consider taking on a side gig to generate some extra income.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.