4 Hardcore Strategies to Torch Debt, Rack Up Cash, and Build Wealth Now

by Shawanda Greene

To reach financial freedom, don’t pussyfoot around your money problems. Tackle them like a boss.

Go ahead:

Complete online surveys.

Shop at the dollar store.

Reuse disposable freezer bags.

But realize, when you’re smothered by a sea of debt and worried about which bills to pay each month, you need to free up more than a few bucks here and there.

Stop Buying Shit

Don’t waste time on soft-core frugal habits.

You don’t need to know which day your local grocer marks down dented canned goods.

Or how to find discount movie tickets on Twitter.

Or when your favorite clothing store holds its next Super Supreme, Never Before Seen, Blowout Sale.

You got a freezer packed with food, a library stuffed with DVDs, a closet jammed with clothes.

If an unexpected expense pops up, before you crack open your wallet, ask yourself, “How do I solve my problem without buying shit?”

Be Your Own Anything

To save serious dough on everyday services, perform various tasks yourself instead of outsourcing them to expensive professionals.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I have the nappiest hair this side of the Atlantic Ocean. You think your hair is hard to manage? Please. Barbed wire ain’t got nothin’ on me.

Without the Internet, I would’ve never been able to rock my natural tresses as fabulously as I do now.

YouTube and Pinterest are crawling with easy-to-follow tutorials on everything from curling your hair with a paper bag to repairing a hole in drywall.

Rework Your Budget

List your monthly expenses in order of most important (food, water, life saving medication) to most frivolous (wine club membership, singing lessons for tone-deaf daughter).

Then, lop off luxuries at the bottom of the list until your cash inflows exceed your outflows.

After you finish this exercise, it’s time to take a chainsaw to your “necessities.”

Live By the Step-Down Principle

Use the step-down principle to reduce the amount allocated to each spending category.

For instance, you need to eat food. But many options exist between sardines and certified, organic, grass fed, free-range beef prepared by the hands of a Top Chef finalist.

What I’m suggesting may cause extreme discomfort for entitled sissies. But true debt assassins and ninja savers welcome the opportunity to transform their sacrifice into a financial fortune.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Romeo September 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Make sense to me. :-)

I minimize my bills to the fullest extent possible so that I’ll have more to spend on other things.

I minimized the amount that I pay for other things so that I’ll have more money to maximize the number of other things that I can buy.
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Shawanda Greene September 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM

That’s what I’m talkin’ about. I like to keep my fixed expenses lean. In a financial pinch, I can slash variable expenses, e.g., food, travel, entertainment, to free up cash.
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Dominique Brown September 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I like the list, but be your own anything has a time component that I just don’t have lol. For example, I was just about to wash, sand and stain my deck.. then I realized it would take me a long time to get it done myself… Time I could be spending on making money. So, I hired someone. The same decision was made with cleaning my own home.. it will take me a long time (6-7 hours to deep clean) F that!

So, what do you do in instances where you are able bodied, but you know the time spent doing the activity could be spent acquiring assets?

Since you are self employed what is your thought process behind chasing more money and outsourcing time consuming or boring tasks?
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Shawanda Greene September 22, 2012 at 11:20 AM

I’m referring to the day-to-day stuff that doesn’t require the skills and expertise of a trained professional. For instance, hair, nails, housekeeping, laundry, etc.

You might have every minute of your day crammed with money making activities, but most people don’t. Just look at all the chatter on your Facebook news feed. I bet the majority of people have more time than they do money. I also think it’s important to remember that you have to spend those additional hours earning extra money, not fantasizing about the money you could be making while someone else stains your deck. Again, I’m sure you spend a lot of time making money. But if you pay someone $200 for 4 hours of work while you proceed to do exactly 0 hours of 4 hours worth of work that could’ve made you $400, then you clearly are $200 poorer than the other way around.

I’m all for outsourcing time consuming, high value activities. For instance, I found a chick on Fiverr to design my ebook cover for $5. I don’t know how to do that crap. And I have no desire to learn. My time would be better spent creating content for my website, newsletter, presentations, etc.
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Alyssa September 21, 2012 at 2:07 PM

“How do I solve my problem without buying shit?” YES. It’s amazing to watch marketers convince people that to save money during this crappy economy, they have to buy stuff. Sure, there are things you buy that end up saving you money later, but it’ll save you the most money to use the resources you already have on hand. Get creative! And when you’re not creative, use the internet to find someone who is!


femmefrugality September 21, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Amen, Alyssa! And Shawanda! Common sense tells us that spending to save is in most cases a practice in futility, but those marketers are just so dang good at our jobs and can make us forget! I do use the frivolous ways of saving money, but I only started doing that after we had implemented many of these steps and I felt like we had to pinch any extra pennies in any way we could.
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Shawanda Greene September 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM

I almost bought something the other day that I didn’t need. Then, I asked myself “How do I solve my problem without buying that shit?” and here I am. Not only am I still alive and healthy, but I’m richer because I didn’t spend money on the thing that’s so insignificant I can’t even remember what was.
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Kelly@FinancialFixers September 21, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Just came across your site, and from just reading your About section and this one post, I think you’re awesome! Not only do you acknowledge “use up our planets resources” as one of the many gluttonous activities of us humans (especially Americans) but you give practical advice in a funny way. “Softcore” purchases like a new t-shirt, or night out at the movies (which can run almost $20) certainly are the first things to cut back on. If you can pay off $25,000 in debt in one year by living a simpler life, it’s possible for anyone! Thanks.


Shawanda Greene September 22, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Aw shucks. Thanks, Kelly.

In actuality, I sweat both big and small purchases. However, I think people place too much emphasis on little things. For instance, if your house payment accounts for 40%, 50% of your income, then you need to focus on moving to a cheaper place, not fighting with your spouse over whether you can afford name brand mayonnaise. (Although you should try to save money on that too.)
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Lance @ Money Life and More September 21, 2012 at 6:25 PM

It is amazing how much junk people think they need to buy. I even buy stuff I know I don’t need but luckily I can afford it. Although I would say I buy a lot less than most. I guess I never got to the buy a lot of junk just to buy something stage.
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Shawanda Greene September 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM

I used to buy crap just to keep me entertained. Now, having a bunch of crap in my space only makes me irritable.


Holly Thrifty September 22, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Let me add a few others where people say “but I can’t save any money”.
Stop getting tattoos.
Give up your pets, or don’t get new ones or don’t buy organic vegetarian pate.
Groom the pets you have.
Give up alcohol….yep, beer is expensive compared to water or iced tea and it has plenty of calories too.
Stop buying the latest gadgets–you can live without a DVR and the latest iPhone…really.
Eat at home instead of anywhere else.
Give up shopping for name brand anything.
Drive your car for at least 2 years after it’s paid in full.
Visit your grandparents. I bet they are living without half the stuff you think you need and chance are they are happier, too. Take some tips on how to save money from them.
Stop smoking

There’s my list of things for people who are serious about getting out of debt instead of making excuses.


Shawanda Greene September 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Great list!

I burst out laughing when I read “stop getting tattoos.” I’m amazed at the number of broke people who find money in their budget for yet another tattoo.

And yes, vices like alcohol and cigarettes may be difficult to give up, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessities.
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Kathleen @ Frugal Portland September 24, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Love it. Stop buying shit!
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Shawanda Greene September 24, 2012 at 10:59 PM

It’s so simple, yet so effective.
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Agatha September 25, 2012 at 11:26 AM

I freaking love this. I believe in living sensibly, without nickel and dime-ing myself to death. So I like all your suggestions for truly saving some cash without counting every penny.
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Briana @ How's Married Life September 25, 2012 at 9:08 PM

I vote that you write an eBook called “Stop Buying Shit” and it will sell lol. I definitely agree. I try to do things on my own as much as possible. My mom insists I get my hair done by a professional. I then ask her “hmm that’s funny, are you helping me pay for it?”
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101 Centavos October 2, 2012 at 5:32 AM

What a great post, Shawanda, chock-full of money quotes. If may add a little, it’s not just stop buying shit, stop buying *stupid* shit.
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Savvy Scot October 5, 2012 at 6:03 AM

Love your no-nosense tips here! Especially the first!
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