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Five Tips to Avoid Debt Consolidation

In our free-wheeling, consumption-oriented society, "budget" might as well be a four-letter word. But even though it may not be much fun, creating one-and sticking to it-can be a great alternative to a debt consolidation loan.

Living within your means, especially within a country where plenty of good times are a credit card swipe away, is no easy task. If you're caught up in a debt spiral, however, you may have no choice but to sacrifice some good times for the better times of being back on your feet.

While many people zap their problems through a debt consolidation loan, there are ways to reduce expenses before taking such a drastic action. As you consider areas to trim, here are some of the expenses that should be the first to go:

Make a dinner reservation-in your dining room

It's a real treat to eat out. What better way to spend an evening than with a tremendous meal and no dishes to wash afterward? Dining out is a great activity for a couple or a family, but it can also be expensive. Buying dinner at a nice restaurant can cost nearly as much as a week's worth of groceries, and sometimes even more. If you want to save some big dollars in a hurry, pick up some cookbooks and start dining in.

Wash and wear it

Sending your kids to school in threadbare clothes is not an option. However, if you can hold off on that expensive set of dress shoes, or a new leather jacket, you'll save yourself some serious cash. To cut your clothing budget, follow a simple rule of thumb: If an item of clothing is seriously worn or falling apart, replace it. Otherwise, avoid the shopping malls and the mail-order catalogs at all costs.

Entertainment begins at home

Entertainment can deliver a knock-out punch to any budget. To save money, you'll have to make a conscious effort to pursue some cheaper thrills. Don't worry-they're out there: hiking, biking, and sightseeing can be accomplished with relatively little expense. You can also read more and avoid the movie theaters. The cost of popcorn and snacks for a family really add up. Wait for those hot new films to come out on DVD.

Don't be a fool for fuel

Gas prices have skyrocketed over the past few years, and there are no guarantees that they'll come back to earth anytime soon. Rather than waiting for lower prices at the pump, initiate some lifestyle changes of your own. Carpooling is a great way to reduce fuel consumption. Also consider swapping the SUV for a hybrid car.

Debt can be a tremendous burden-but you don't need to take out a debt consolidation loan to solve your problems. Instead, try creating a budget and limiting your expenses, a practice most big-spenders regard as difficult and a bit of a downer. Consider how good it feels to be debt-free: It's a price that you should be willing to pay.

By:Greg Mischio


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