Debt can be crippling. If you are losing sleep because you are worried about debt, then contact an expert at one of the following agencies:
Christians Against Poverty – you don’t have to be a Christian to ask for their help
All of the above agencies can help you, you are not alone, there is always hope.
If you feel that your debt is manageable and you can be debt free, then read on.
Work out how much debt you have.
Your priority is to sit down and go through all your financial paper work. Calculate how much you owe. Make a list, smallest to largest, you will need this later.
Develop the habit of spending less than you earn. Understand the difference between your wants and needs. We started using an envelope system (some people use jam jars) and place the amount of cash that you need for food, fuel or other things that you spend on each month. Taking cash to the grocery store really helped me not to overspend. I placed the treats (chocolate biscuits) at the end of the conveyor belt and asked the cashier to stop just before I reached my budget. I found if I took my debit card, I would overspend. Studies have shown that if you pay by card, you pay 33% more than if you paid with cash!
Stop borrowing money
Cut up your credit cards and vow never to use them again. Live on cash!
Work out where your money is going
You need to work out where your money is going. For the first month, carry a pencil and notebook with you whether you go and write down every penny that you spend.
At the end of the month, look back at your bank statements too, what direct debits or standing orders do you have?
Cancel any outstanding subscriptions and other outgoing items that you don’t need.
Create a family spending plan aka budget!
Before we started out debt free journey, my husband and I were on separate pages with our finances (read more about that here!). Now, after 18 years of marriage, we are on the same page. My husband is still reluctant to sit down and create a monthly budget with me, but he knows it’s important if we’re going to be debt free.
Our 12-year-old daughter is also involved and, although she is at the stage where she compares herself to her other friends, she does understand that we all need to be part of the plan if this is going to work.
You can create a spending plan using one of the many online budgeting apps or create your own personal budget spreadsheet.
Pay off debt
Within your spending plan you need to allocate money to pay off your debt. I like the snowball method where you list all your debts from smallest to largest – regardless of interest rates. You pay off your smallest debt first. I know that this worked for us as we were motivated by the debts disappearing. It could take you months or a few years but you if stay focused you will be debt free!
Get an extra job
Getting an extra job is a great way to help pay off your debt. The internet has made it possible to earn extra cash in ways that we never thought possible a few years ago.
Food delivery and waitressing are always great ways to earn extra cash because you’ll get lots of cash tips too!
Pay more than the minimum payment
It may be tempting to pay the minimum on your credit card; however, you will be paying more in interest charges this way and it will work out much more expensive. Experts recommend that you pay the statement balance in full every month but if you can’t do that, pay as much as you can afford to ensure you clear the card as quickly as you can.
Sell your stuff
I am sure that you have things in your home that you could sell! Many people like to sell things at a car boot sale, personally, I don’t like the way that people haggle and want things for next to nothing. Local websites, eBay or Facebook groups are a better way to sell things and you get a much higher price than if you sold everything at a car boot sale.
Plan your meals
Creating meal plans before you go grocery shopping is smart! I found that I cut back on the amount of money I spent, our meals were healthier, and I was more organised! Win win!