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In today’s world, many people are striving to maintain lifestyles they can’t actually afford. Their monthly expenses are through the roof, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they’re also carrying consumer debt. They know they should be paying off their bills and charge cards, but quite simply, they don’t have enough money to cover it all.

Some people really are painted into a corner, but the majority of people still have an escape route whether they are aware of it or not. Here is how to streamline your financial outgo so that you can live more peacefully and pay your debt off.

Streamline your financial outgo to pay off your debt

Cancel Recurring Charges

Sometimes we have the tendency to think that it’s the one-time lump-sum charges that kill us, when in reality it’s usually the monthly, recurring expenses that wreak havoc on our financial life (especially credit cards). You may not be able to cancel your utility bills (you can turn off the air conditioning or turn down the thermostat), but you can unsubscribe from cable or satellite TV, Netflix or DVD clubs, magazine subscriptions and so forth. It may seem a little hard at first, but it is worth it over the long-term.

You could also look into the terms of your bank account and switch to a no-fee option, or keep enough money in your wallet so as to avoid extraneous debit charges.

Sell Unneeded Household Items

Anything that falls under the category of entertainment (DVDs, video games, board games, etc.) or things you haven’t used in the last three months would likely fit under this heading. As long as you stay focused on the desired end result and you want it bad enough, it shouldn’t prove difficult to part with household items you don’t have any immediate use for. If your intention is to amass wealth, keep in mind that there will come a time when you can buy it all back and more. Sacrifice for a window of time.

Buy Cheaper Food

In the process of streamlining your lifestyle, you don’t want to sacrifice your health. However, while you’re still in the process of getting your finances under control, you may want to look into more affordable options for food and sustenance. You could also set a monthly food budget (less than what you currently spend) and try not to go over it. If you’re in the habit of eating out, eat at home more often.

Downgrade Your Lifestyle

If you can’t cover your expenses from month to month, you may be trying to live a lifestyle that you can’t actually afford. Somewhere along the line, you either learned that you needed to “keep up with the Joneses” or try to impress those around you with money you don’t have. This is a complete misnomer. Being stressed about finances is a sure way to attract more stress about finances into your life. If you want to live in peace and security, you don’t need to impress anyone. Sell the home and move into an apartment. Sell the Beemer and get a 10-year-old Honda Civic. Again, this is a short-term sacrifice for a longer-term vision.

Pay Off Debt

If you’ve followed the previous four steps, you should be able to cancel your debt in whole or at the very least in part. This is a worthy goal, because sadly much of the credit, loan and bank industry is a little corrupt. They have plenty of money without you handing it to them on a silver platter. Additionally, the feeling of being debt free is extraordinary. You will feel like a new person once you’re there.