Debts can really hang over you, making you feel miserable and incredibly stressed out. If your debts are making you unhappy, you can do something about it.
Whether you’ve been stung by a bad divorce settlement, got behind on your bills or have large credit card debts, there are some manageable ways to help you get your debt down and pay it off.
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Give your finances a health check and make a note of everything. How much do you have coming in every month? Include your salary, any benefits, and income from any other sources like part-time jobs, side gigs or online surveys. Start a spending diary to see exactly where your money is going every month. Note everything whether it’s paying the rent or buying a newspaper. Look at any debts you’re paying and organize them in order of highest to lowest interest so you can prioritize which you focus on clearing. Keep up with minimum payments, but put spare cash into paying off the highest interest first.
Work out exactly how large your debt is. Having an actual number gives you something to aim at and an incentive to work towards. This can help you focus on the savings you need to make. Create a payment timeline for clearing that number, to keep you on track.
If you’re struggling, get help with organizing your debt. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount you owe and are struggling to meet even minimum payments, speak to an expert who can help you get your debt under control. There are many charities and organizations who can give you free credit counseling and help you arrange a debt management plan. If you can’t afford to pay your current creditors, bring in a law firm to help, like McCarthy Debt Settlement Law Office, who can help you negotiate a payment plan that you can actually manage to pay.
Earn some extra funds by having a clear-out of old belongings. Go through all your things, and sort everything into categories of keep, sell and donate. With the items, you want to sell, list them on eBay, or hold a yard sale. You’ll clear out clutter and can earn some extra cash to put towards paying down your debt.
Boost your income with a second job or a side hustle. If you have some spare time, take on a second job, like an evening job stacking shelves at your local supermarket or doing bar work. Advertise yourself as a dog walker or babysitter to earn some extra funds. Start a side hustle using your skills, for example by selling the jewellery you make or offering your services as a WordPress consultant. A side hustle or extra job only needs to be temporary to help you make a dent in your debt.
Set a budget. Living on a tighter budget will help you boost your savings, which can be put into paying off some of your debt. You don’t have to get rid of everything you like, but be a little stricter with yourself. Even small changes can make a difference in how much you can save. When grocery shopping, switch from branded products to supermarket own brand. Make lunch at home instead of buying it at work, or stop buying takeaway coffees. Cut back on streaming services or get rid of your cable package. Unsubscribe from store emails, so you don’t get tempted to spend by having advertising arriving in your inbox all the time.
Pay all your bills and debt payments on time. Late payment fees can add up fast, and if you consistently miss payments, you could be forced to cancel any pre-agreed plan of paying in installments. Always try to make your payments on time, but if you can’t, make sure you contact your lender or supplier immediately and explain. If you’re up front and honest from the start, they may be more willing to negotiate and arrange another payment date with you that you can meet.
Reduce your bills by shopping around. Compare the cost of things like insurance and utilities at other suppliers, and if you could make a saving somewhere. Shop around for better deals and get quotes from different suppliers to see if you can find a cheaper option to save some money.
Put your savings towards clearing your debt. If you’ve been sorting out your finances, you might have some more money than you usually do. This can be exciting, but try to resist the temptation to treat yourself with your extra funds. Instead, put any spare cash straight towards paying your debt. Once you’ve cleared your debts, if you’re still in good financial habits, you can enjoy the extra money then.
Start looking for coupons. Keep an eye out for offers on things you already buy, but don’t be tempted to buy things you don’t want just because they’re on offer. Look out for coupons and deals on basics to save money on products you’d be buying anyway.[convertkit form=5271700]
Shop at thrift stores. If you have children, you know that kids grow out of clothes and grow bored of their toys quickly. Instead, on spending a lot on clothes that they won’t wear for very long, shop for new clothes for the kids in thrift shops to save a lot of cash. Encourage them to donate their old toys and replace them with different ones from the thrift store. Kids toys and board games turn up in thrift stores a lot, so you should have plenty of choice. For you, shop for clothes and items like books, instead of buying new.
Related: Living Your Best Life – On A Budget
Go out to eat less often. Dinner out is a great way to relax but can cost a lot. Instead of going out, switch to cooking at home more often. Giving up the odd night out doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit. Instead of going out to eat, invite your friends round for dinner. Dinner parties can be a cheap option, especially if you’re honest with your friends about your money struggles. Ask them to bring something to dinner. If you’re cooking, ask them to bring the wine. Host a potluck party where each of your guests brings a dish. You still get to be sociable and see your friends, but it’s a cheap night out for everybody.
Use your local library. If you often buy a lot of DVDs or books, swap to borrow them from the library. You could save a large amount of money by doing this and support a local resource.
Plan your meals and shop smarter. Create a meal plan for the week, then make a shopping list and stick to it. Don’t be tempted into buying groceries you don’t need, even if they’re on offer. Resist the impulse buys and shop in a smarter way to reduce your grocery bills.
Consider the amount of money that your hobbies cost you. Some expensive hobbies can add up to a significant amount. Are you spending a lot on baking supplies every month, or paying out a lot to attend a regular yoga class? Find a way to enjoy your hobbies for less, or take a break from the pricier ones, at least until you can clear your debt.
Find some free forms of entertainment instead of spending a lot on weekend fun. Instead of spending money on things like the cinema, bowling or concerts, find free things to do. Many local areas host free events for the community, so keep an eye on what’s going on around your to find free concerts or other fun events. Go for a relaxing walk, take the kids to the park or go for a bike ride.
Get rid of your credit cards to reduce the temptation to spend. Credit cards can easily encourage you to run up more debt and spend more money than you can really afford and get into a debt spiral. Get rid of the cards all together if you can. If you need a credit card for emergencies, don’t keep it your wallet. Instead, put it away somewhere safe in your home, so you can get it if you truly need it but aren’t tempted by it whenever you open your wallet.
Don’t be tempted to spend more than you can afford by trying to match the lifestyles of more affluent friends. Just because they’re spending money doesn’t mean you should. Be strong, and remember that later on you’ll be debt free, which is more satisfying than spending cash you can’t afford on a night out.
Look into benefit entitlements. If you’re currently out of work, are on a low income or are a single parent, you might be entitled to more benefits that you don’t know about. Do some research and see what you can claim to bring in a little extra cash.
Check your credit report regularly to keep on top of what’s going on with your finances. Check your credit rating and report and make sure you have anything that is incorrect removed as this could damage your rating further. Use your report to spot any major problem areas that you need to correct and get onto solving the problem.