Becoming debt free is not easy but is it possible!
It was only a few years ago that we were paying over £1000 a month on debt. Yes, £1000 a month! All that money on debt and interest and it was so depressing. But then, after our ‘aha’ moment, we were on a mission to be debt free!
Fast forward a few years of hard work and intentionality, and we are now in such a better financial position. We are now able to save and invest that money and we don’t owe anyone anything! Being debt free is a great feeling!
I’m not writing that to boast, but to give others hope that it can be done.
Becoming debt free is not easy and you have to stay focused, but it is possible. If we can do it, so can you!
And so today, I’d like to share our top tips and tricks on how you can get out of debt.
So buckle up and hold on tight, these tips and tricks are for you!
Calculate your net worth
First, you need to see the big picture. Calculate all that you have in assets, that means, how much do you own. How much of your house, your car do you own? How much do you have in savings or investments? Total it all up.
Then, work out how much you owe. Write it all down and add it all up.
Finally subtract how much you owe from how much you own. That’s your net worth.
Now remember, that figure is not set in stone. It’s not permanent. This figure can change and with a bit of intentionality, it will improve so don’t lose heart.
Now that you can see the big picture, you need to narrow down to look at your monthly income and outgoings. So you need to create a budget!
I know that the word budget has many negative connotations. However, by taking time to sit down and create a budget, you get a good understanding of your income and outgoings. You can clearly see where your money is going and now that you know that, you can plan! Because you can’t plan where you want to go until you know where you are starting from.
When we first started budgeting we were able to take a close look at the bank statements and the credit card balances. We were amazed at how many subscriptions and memberships that we’d signed up for but had completely forgotten about. With just a few clicks and a couple of emails, we had saved ourselves around £500 a year – and that’s money worth saving!
For more information on budgeting, read Why Budgeting Is Essential.
You may also be interested in my super, simple Excel Budget Spreadsheet. I created it for people who are just starting out on their budgeting journey.
If you’d like 1:1 support to create a budget, you can check out my Budget Makeover, it’s a great option if you feel totally overwhelmed when it comes to budgeting.
As you budget, you could see how you want to improve your personal finances, for example, getting out of debt, saving an emergency fund. By establishing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) financial goals, you will have something to work towards and will feel so good when you have achieved them!
Read more about Setting Financial Goals
Choose between the Debt Avalanche or the Debt Snowball.
When it comes to tackling debt, there are two popular methods: the debt avalanche and the debt snowball. Both strategies offer a structured approach to becoming debt-free, but they differ in their focus and approach.
The debt avalanche method prioritises paying off debts with the highest interest rates first. By targeting these high-interest balances, you can minimise the total amount of interest paid over time, ultimately saving money in the long run.
On the other hand, the debt snowball method takes a different approach. Instead of focusing on interest rates, this method prioritises paying off the smallest debts first. The idea is to build momentum by quickly eliminating smaller balances, which can provide a psychological boost and keep you motivated on your debt repayment journey.
Regardless of the method you choose, both involve listing your debts and making minimum payments on all but one. Once a debt is paid off, you roll the amount you were paying on that debt into the next one on your list. This process continues until all debts are paid in full.
Choosing between the debt avalanche and the debt snowball ultimately depends on your personal preferences and financial situation. Some may prefer the potential interest savings of the avalanche method, while others may find the psychological benefits of the snowball method more appealing.
Understanding the differences between these two strategies can help you make an informed decision about which approach is best suited to your needs. Whether you prioritise minimising interest or maximising motivation, the key is to stay committed to your debt repayment plan and celebrate each milestone along the way.
For us, we chose the debt snowball as crushing those smaller debts first, gave us the mental boost we needed to keep moving forwards! But personal finance is personal and you need to choose what suits you best.
Read more about Debt Snowball vs Debt Avalanche
Spend less than you earn to become debt free
It sounds easy right! But we know that lifestyle creeps in, friends invite you to join them for a meal at a fancy restaurant, or even on a lovely holiday, you just can’t say no..right? Wrong, you can say no! It’s very much OK to say, ‘No!’
If your friends are aware that you are paying down debt, and they are good friends, then they’ll understand. It doesn’t mean you can never go out, it means that you may need to change the venue from a fancy restaurant to a friend’s house!
Increase your income
I know that getting a second job isn’t always easy. But if you were able to increase your income by just a little, then that would definitely help.
Getting a regular extra job may be tricky but we can still earn a few extra pounds every month from dog walking, pet sitting, selling homemade baked goods and babysitting.
It all adds up and at the end of the month, you can pay off your debt quicker – and celebrate sooner!
Read more about How To Make Extra Money From Home
Pay with cash!
I use the envelope system to organise our money. It helps us to stick to our budget.
For example, when I go grocery shopping, I take cash. I tell the cashier that this is the amount I have and I can’t go over it. Top tip: I put all the ‘treats’, sodas, chocolate, sweets at the end of the conveyor belt and if I don’t have enough money, they go back on the shelves.
I’ve been doing this for years and no cashier has ever complained and I’ve always been so grateful for that!
Coupons are great and can add up to a lot of savings – but only if you were going to buy the item in the first place! Otherwise, you’re spending money on something you don’t need and that’s not smart!
Visit charity shops / thrift stores
We love a good charity shop! You can get some great items of clothing, bags, toys, games and books, all in great condition and for a fraction of the price. Plus, you are supporting a local charity – what’s not to love!
Join your local library
My daughter and I are big fans of libraries. We are avid readers, but the cost of books add up! So we are regular members of our local library. Membership of all local libraries in the UK are free. For everyone, whatever your age, isn’t that great!
In many libraries, you can not only borrow books, but audio books too, games, toys, puzzles and more!
Check out your local library and save some money today.
Tell your friends and family that you’re on a mission to be debt free!
Telling our daughter the plan to become debt free was one of the best things we ever did.
He was a pre-teen when we started the journey and she completely understood that our mission was a family one and we were in this together.
That’s not to say that she was happy about it, but it helped her to understand why we couldn’t go out with her friends for pizza every Friday night, or couldn’t go to the 5-star hotel at the beach every school holiday.
And we told our friends too, and they were great about it. Friends also commented that they were spending too much money and needed to budget too so it was a great way to encourage and support each other on our journeys to prioritise our personal finances.
Limit your streaming services or cut back altogether
How much are you spending on streaming services? When we looked at our budget recently, we realised that we were paying for five streaming services.
You see, my husband signs up for the ‘free trial’ and forgets to cancel, so you have to keep an eye on these things! Needless to say, we sat down as a family and discussed what we really needed and then unsubscribed from a few!
I love this one, I think it’s the nerd in me! Meal planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just choose a few of your favourite meals, make sure that you have the ingredients in your kitchen or on your shopping list and away you go!
I found that meal planning helps you be prepared, you’re no longer wondering what you’re going to eat that night, so there’s no need to get take out or visit a restaurant!
As a side note, I also like to batch cook. For example, when we cook a curry, we’ll cook double the amount that we need, then freeze the rest. Then, on a day that I know it’s going to be crazy busy, I get the leftover curry out of the freezer in the morning and when we return home, it just needs heating up! Result!
Sell items online
There are so many great apps and websites where you can sell your unwanted / preloved things. If you’re not using them, or the children have outgrown their clothes and toys, why not sell them and make some money at the same time! Win win!
No Spend Days
I know that the temptation to spend every day is hard, especially when you get emails and messages from your favourite shops offering you fantastic discounts. But why not challenge your family to a no spend month. You might be amazed on how much you could save!
The idea behind a no spend month is that you can only spend on essentials, for example food, bills, fuel, medication and the like. You can’t go shopping for new clothes or shoes, no trips to restaurants or take outs. And definitely no shopping no Amazon or your other favourite online apps!
When we first tried this, it really opened our eyes to how much we spent without realising it!
Tips and Tricks To Becoming Debt Free – Summary
I appreciate the road to becoming debt free can be long and hard but, have hope, because it is possible!
By making a few changes and being intentional with your money, you can make a huge difference.
If my family and I can do it, you can too!
If you are looking to improve your finances, be sure to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free Q&A call and learn about the advantages of having a finance coach on your team.
Hi, I’m Karen, I am a blogger and finance coach. My speciality is helping couples get on the same financial page and win with money and marriage.