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How to Pave the Road to Financial Freedom Little by Little

How to Pave the Road to Financial Freedom Little by Little

Ah, financial freedom! I believe that there is not a single person in the world who does not have this as one of their life goals. Being economically self-sufficient is one of the quickest ways to happiness. I know “money doesn’t buy happiness”, but debt almost assuredly buys sleepless nights, mental breakdowns, and physical illness.

However, even if you have regular income it might be hard for you to stay out of debt, simply because making it from one paycheck to another is a mission that involves everyday puzzle-solving and navigating a labyrinth of impulse buys, small expenses here and there (which you think are necessary), and basically surviving. To stay on top of it, I will use a metaphor to help me explain.

Imagine if you will, a sieve. It’s a simple vessel with a bunch of little holes that let the water go through. The holes are little but there are so many that the water flows almost freely. The sieve in question is the labyrinth I’ve mentioned and the water is the amount of money you have each month. Now, the point of the sieve is to let the water through but the rate at which it flows can be regulated by plugging some of the holes.

That’s exactly what I will try to show you– how to plug those little holes that keep draining your money away each day.

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Take a strict list to the grocery store

The impulse buys are basically the worst enemy of financial freedom. While I will not advise you to never humor yourself (as I myself am not above it), doing this on a daily basis (or whenever you go to the grocery store) can seriously harm your budget.

I have this problem, too. Whenever I go to the supermarket I want to buy something from each aisle even though I’ve only come in to buy the essentials. However, I’ve started making a list before going (instead of just remembering what I need) by assessing what I really need.

I’ve had to practice self-restraint so I don’t buy that box of Oreos I really don’t need that day. Once I’m out of the supermarket I completely forget about those Oreos. For the sake of my own sanity I put a box on the list every now and then.

Also, everyone knows that you should not go hungry when grocery shopping. It only increases the impulse buys.

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Take care of your teeth

When mentioning small ways to help save big this one always comes to my mind. I can only say it in retrospect because I’ve made the mistake of not looking after my teeth when I was a kid, and have had to pay dearly for it.

We all know how expensive dentists can be. I’ve experienced it recently when I’ve had to go and have my whole lower jaw fixed, tooth by tooth. Several visits to the dentist later and I’ve realized that I’ve paid over $10,000 already, and there are still some upper-jaw teeth to fix. The dentist explained to me that this situation could’ve been avoided by taking daily care of my teeth (which I refused to do when I was young).

Brushing after every meal, removing stuck pieces of food, and getting regular check-ups (which are not expensive) can help you prevent that big expenditure later on. I’m not saying that you will never have to fix your teeth, but fixing them while the problems are small will certainly cost less than having to redo them all from scratch.

Invite your friends over to your place

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    Humans have to socialize. It is rare for people to go on for months or years without seeing another person. We simply have to meet up with friends, as without them life can get pretty boring. This means we have to go out for drinks, a meal, or a cup of coffee.

    What we don’t realize- or we do, we just wish to ignore it- is that having a drink in a club costs at least twice as much as having it at home. Getting a beer can cost upwards to $6, while a visit to the supermarket will have you pay $3 for that same beer. (These are not actual prices. It’s just simplified to make a point.)

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    Next time you want to meet with your friends, why not invite them over for a home-cooked meal and a pair of bruskies? You’ll still socialize but it will not be an expensive endeavor as going to a pub or a restaurant. This does not mean that you should never go out, but think of every night out as one more hole in the sieve. It’s better to plug some of them than none at all.

    Walk more (or use your car less)

    Having a car has become less of a social status symbol and more of a necessity in the 21st century. We take a car to take out the trash or go to a grocery store just around the corner. Each time we start a car we spend gasoline. Although oil prices have been dropping at an alarming rate for the past two years, gasoline is still expensive- just not as much as before.

    Having lived abroad for a year without a car I’ve realized that I don’t really need it as much. I was able to walk everywhere. The places that were more than half-an-hour’s walk were reachable by bike. Both walking and cycling are powered by two things– your legs. Your legs are not burning expensive fuel. They are burning body fat. All you need is to eat something. Aside from saving money you will be able to enjoy the scenery.

    (Note: This paragraph does not count if you are a Venezuelan. The Venezuelan government subsidizes gas prices for the locals and makes it extremely cheap to drive a car.)

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    Save on your mobile phone service

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      Mobile phones have, like cars, become a part of our everyday life. It is great to be able to reach someone, no matter where he or she is, and to be reached. However, providers charge us for whatever they can think of and then there’s the cost of a new phone every now and then (when your old one breaks).

      Saving the money on your phone can include anything from not talking as much over shopping around for deals and not getting a phone with your contract. Actually, the last one is one of the best ways to plug a hole (and this one is actually not so small). Getting a SIM-only contract can reduce monthly fees up to 50% (depending on the provider).

      Also look for loyalty deals and do not be afraid to threaten to leave for another company, if the current one is not giving you something better. There are also numerous other ways to save money on your mobile phone service but for the sake of brevity I am only mentioning a few. Saving a small amount each month will amount to something tangible after a period of time. Your financial well-being largely depends on your everyday decisions. Even those that seem like not much of a harm can make a difference at the end of the month. You do not have to be completely frugal when it comes to spending, but a bit of self-restraint goes a long way. Get informed and don’t just take everything for granted. Chances are you’ll be on your way to financial freedom and no debts without even realizing it’s working.

      Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/money-card-business-credit-card-256319/ via pexels.com

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      Aleksandar Ilic

      Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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      Last Updated on April 3, 2019

      How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

      How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

      Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

      By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

      This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

      Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

      1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible

      This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

      It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

      Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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      Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

      My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

      Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

      2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least

      You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

      Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

      If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

      3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts

      This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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      It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

      4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra

      Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

      This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

      For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

      Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

      5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use

      If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

      In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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      6. Get Aggressive About It

      Consider these points:

      Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

      Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

      Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

      Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

      7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals

      Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

      By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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      Finally (and most importantly)…

      8. Keep Trying

      Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

      Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

      Start Knocking out Your Debt Today

      The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

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      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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