I used to think that debt was a way of life. Until recently.
Then, as I read books on personal finance and listened to many podcasts on the subject, I learnt that many people either work hard to become debt free or have a good understanding of their finances and never get into debt in the first place.
By ‘debt’, I mean money owed to credit cards, store cards, overdrafts, bank loans, loan sharks, car loans or student loans.
If you are in debt and want to become debt free, it is possible.
You can turn your finances around.
If you have the right plan.
Imagine what it would be like to have the money that you currently pay off to debt, to have in savings or even have some fun money!
When it comes down to it, the usual tips like cutting up your credit cards and taking packed lunches to work do work but there are even smarter ways of getting out of debt and I want to share them with you!
First, before we jump into the strategies, you must be serious about this. No more spending on the credit card, no more taking out loans. All sources of debt must now stop.
This may be a huge change for you. But if you carry on doing what you’ve always done, then things will stay the same.
If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done, You’ll Always Get What You’ve Always Got.” Henry Ford.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to be debt free then, let’s do this!
Create a budget
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a chore. You can read my blog on ‘Why Budgeting is Essential’ and you can also use my simple Excel Spreadsheet and watch the Budgeting Masterclass to learn how to budget.
By budgeting, you can get a really good picture of where your money is going. It can show you where you can cut back so that you can throw money at your debt.
When you budget, you tell your money where it’s going, rather than wondering where it went.
I am a huge fan of the debt snowball method. The debt snowball method is where you pay off your smallest balance first. For us, this had a huge psychological impact.
We would pay the minimum payments on the other debts and throw as much money as we could on the smallest debt. It was so motivating to see the debts fall!
After we’d finished repaying the first debt, we took the amount we were previously paying each month and began applying it to the next-smallest debt.
The amount of money we put toward debt each month didn’t change, but we did pay the debts off with increasing speed.
Bonuses? Cash gifts?
If you are fortunate enough to earn a bonus in your line of work, or receive cash gifts for birthdays or Christmas, don’t even start dreaming about what you could spend it on, you need to throw it at your debt!
Start a side hustle.
Starting a side hustle has never been easier. Online tutoring, dog walking, babysitting, the list is endless, read more in my blog ‘ ‘.
Get a part time job.
If you’re not keen on starting a side hustle, then get another job. I appreciate that this may not be for everyone, but if someone in your house could get another job, then every little bit helps.
Become a driver for Uber or Lyft, deliver pizzas or work in a pub at weekends.
Be sure to throw the extra cash to your debt – don’t be tempted to spend it!
OK, perhaps not everything! But certainly have a look in the loft, garage, cupboards and sell anything that you no longer need or want. You may be surprised on how much you could get on your local Facebook community pages or on Ebay.
Remember that all extra cash goes straight towards paying off your debt.
Use the cash envelope system
People spend less when they spend cash. I know that I have to stick to the budget when I go grocery shopping with cash.
When you use cash, you’ll see every penny that you spend and that will help you stick to your budget.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
We’ve all been there. Comparing yourself to your neighbours or your work colleagues. It’s so easy to do. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean that it’s right.
You don’t know what their financial situation is. But you do know yours.
Don’t think about the holidays that you’re missing out on or the trips to the shopping mall or the newest restaurant in town.
Think about your why.
Why are you on a mission to become debt free?
We have posters around our house with ‘Why’ written on them, with photos of our financial goals – a photo of Disney World, a photo of our dream home.
It helps us to keep focused and our eyes on the biggest prize – to be debt free and start saving for the things that mean the most to us.
Save on your shoppings by using coupons, vouchers and discount codes. When I was young, I remember my Mum cutting out coupons from the local newspaper or magazines. These days coupons have gone digital!
Today, it’s more about apps, cashback and online codes.
Check out some cashback apps such as Green Jinn, Checkout Smart and Shopmium to find out more.
Sign up for loyalty schemes for bonus offers and some schemes offer persoanlised discounts too.
Check for online codes at the big supermarkets
Online shopping has become increasingly popular so if you’re doing an online shop, have a look for codes that can get you money off.
No more eating out!
No more eating out at any restaurant, expensive or cheap. And that means no more takeaways either!
The only time you should be seen in a restaurant, is if you’re working there!
So, if you’re not allowed to eat out or get take aways, that means that you need to get at home. That’s why meal planning is so important.
By planning your meals, you will save so much money. And that means you’ll have more cash to throw at your debt!
Make a list for the grocery shopping
Hand in hand with meal planning is making a list for the weekly food shop. Don’t even think about grocery shopping until you’ve had a look in your cupboards, figured out what you’ve got and what you need and made a list. Stick to the list! If it’s not on the list, you don’t need it!
Oh, and don’t go shopping with children or spouse – that’s a sure way to encourage you to spend more!
Try grocery shopping online
To avoid impulse buying and to get some great online deals, try grocery shopping online.
Find the cheapest day that your grocery shop deliver and go from there. There are some great online deals that are worth checking out.
It’s also a great way to stick to your budget as you can see the total as you shop.
Avoid expensive hobbies
A few years ago, before we were on a mission to be debt free and build wealth, my husband wanted to be a pilot and was having flying lessons.
How stupid were we? We had no money, masses of debt and he was spending silly amounts of our money earning to fly a plane!
Needless to say, that’s no longer the case.
If you have any expensive hobbies, now’s the time to dtich them!
Find free entertainment
If you have enjoyed days out at the theme parks, concerts and trips to the theatre, you’re going to have to put them on hold for now.
Find some free entertainment in your local area: libraries, picnics at the local park.
I’m not saying that you can never go to concerts again, I’m just saying not yet. Not until you are debt free.
Learn to say ‘No!’
You don’t have any money so you can’t buy it.
It’s that simple. Learn to be strong and say no with conviction! It’s not forever, it’s just not yet.
Go on a spending freeze!
I love ‘free’ days, those days when you don’t spend any money!
Challenge yourself not to spend any money (that’s apart from the essentials), for a day, a week or even a month! This is a great way to save money and throw it at the debt! Even if it’s just £10, it all adds up!
There are lots of things that you can do to get out of debt fast. You need the right plan. You need to have intention and you need to be committed.
However, let me tell you from personal experience: The road is tough. You will be tempted. Friends and family will not understand. But you have a vision and a clear goal.
You can do this.
Your future self will thank you.
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.