11 Surprising Habits of the Debt Free Woman

Cut up money

Debt free women aren’t so by accident – they are because of willpower and long-term planning of how they want their life to be.

They’ve also developed and maintain healthy spending habits to keep their eye on the prize. Here are 11 habits used by debt free women that will help you join their ranks:

1. They stick to a cash diet
“Instead of getting a debit card that links directly to a checking account, people should ask for an ATM-only card,” says Elle Kaplan, CEO and Founding Partner of LexION Capital Management. It’s a simple technique that helps keep your budget in tact.

2. They don’t window shop
Debt free woman Diony Cespedes, Founder of Sole Strivers Financial Fitness, resists temptation by shopping only when she needs something specific. “I don’t browse around in stores or surf websites that sell stuff I’d be tempted to splurge on,” she says.

3. They automate
It’s too easy to skip out on making a savings deposit for the sake of a super cute pair of pumps. If you’re like me and need to protect yourself from… well, yourself, setup recurring transfers from your checking to your savings based on your pay schedule.

4. They base their spending on hours, not dollars
When Holly Wolf, Chief Marketing Officer at Conestoga Bank spots a hot pair of jeans, she thinks about the purchase in terms of dollars per hour. “If you earn $30/hour, would you be willing to work four hours for those jeans?” says Wolf. “Even if you earn more than that, pick a dollar per hour price that seems reasonable to you to help you in your decision making.”

5. They use credit wisely
Debt free women aren’t terrified of credit – they know how to play the game. “I have one small credit card I use for recurring monthly bills that I have to pay every month,” says Jill Beirne Davi, Owner of Abundant Finances. “I pay the balance in full to build my credit score.”

6. They streamline their focus
Wolf puts her money toward the things that interest her most – like travel – while skimping on the things she doesn’t care about (like fancy cars).

7. They go on spending detoxes
Twice a year, finance guru Cyndi Finkle and her hubby choose a month where they decide they’re not going to spend any money. “We pay our normal bills but we limit all spending other than that,” she says.

They use this time to filter through their kitchen cupboards to utilize any forgotten purchases, redeem accumulated gift cards, and create “date nights in” as a way to reconnect and abandon materialism for a while. This has also made when they do go out that much more meaningful.

8. They’re list makers
“We all run into problems going in stores and seeing things that look like a good deal,” says Ozeme Bonnette of Tri-Quest Investment Advisors. “Even if we didn’t go in for that item, we’re now drawn to get it while it’s on sale.” Having a list keeps you focused on your needs.

9. They’re mindful of their purchases
“When I buy something, I must get rid of something,” says Wolf. “It makes you think about your next purchase because you know you have to toss something.”

10. They play the delay game
When Davi was digging herself out of debt, she noticed she still “wanted” a lot of things even though she wasn’t using credit. Instead of telling herself no, which would just make the urge to spend even worse, she negotiated with herself. “I’d say to myself, ‘How about we get it next pay period?’” she says. “The delay tactic still works like a charm for me, since most times I never go back to buy the item.”

11. They pay themselves first
It feels like there’s never enough money to cover the bills, let alone save anything. “However, it’s to our disadvantage to pay everyone else and not have anything left for ourselves,” says Bonnette. Each pay period, always set aside money for yourself into an account that’s hard to touch. “If diligent enough, it could grow to pay for your next vehicle or a house down payment.”

What strategies are helping you become (or stay) debt free?

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Image: Tax Credits

Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?). You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (you know, if you want).