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The Art of Smart Spending: 7 Basic Steps to Financial Freedom

The Art of Smart Spending: 7 Basic Steps to Financial Freedom

Modern life has its fair share of stresses and pressures and the fast life we lead tends to put a strain on us. Life can have a lot of sources of stress, but one of the things that can really impact all aspects of your life is having financial problems. This is especially problematic for young people who have just started to earn their own paycheck and still don’t have control over their spending habits.

If you are having difficulty stretching your budget till the end of the month, you might find these tips helpful. We are going to give you basic advice so that you can apply and create some financial breathing space for yourself. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you remove stressing out about money from your daily routine.

1. Track your spending

First thing’s first, you need to know exactly how and what you spend your money on. Most of us develop a lot of, let’s say hedonistic and impulsive spending habits. In most cases these individual purchases are not a big deal, but they tend to rack up to a substantial amount. By analysing your spending, you will be able to identify unnecessary expenses and neutralize them.

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You can use your smartphone or tablet to write down your purchases and make it easy to keep track of your spending. Once you go through one month of tracking your spending, categorize your expenses and pinpoint those that you consider to be excessive and damaging to your monthly budget.

2. Manage your bills right away

One of the biggest financial complications that you can create for yourself on a monthly basis is to miscalculate your spending capabilities, go on a shopping spree and then end up not having enough money to resolve your bills.

This is why it is a good practice to avoid spending money before your manage your bills and actually have an idea how much money you can spend without going over your monthly budget. Keep in mind that not managing your bills properly will transfer into the next month and can create long-term trouble.

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3. Play mind games with yourself

    One of the basic approaches you can take is to actually convince yourself that you are outright broke. Whenever that little voice inside your head goes: “You’ve had a hard day, you should treat yourself”; add a big voice that goes: “You are as poor as they come, start meditating for stress relief.”

    This may seem as a bit harsh, but it is necessary and you need to work on your self-control. Once we start earning our own money, we tend to start spoiling ourselves and the mentality that it’s our money and that we can do whatever we want with it is all well and good until debts come knocking.

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    4. Getting things done with a bad credit score

    Usually, being under financial strain means that you also have a bad credit score. This can create problems for you when you want to take care of something that you sorely need, but your options are limited due to your inability to get a bank loan. In some cases, there are banks that specialize in giving credit to people who others consider incapable of taking up credit.

    Sometimes they specialize in a particular type of credit, but you’ll need to be very careful when you do this, since there are both good and bad sides to this, and since you are taking up more financial obligations in an already strain situation, you want to make sure that the good outweighs the bad. Furthermore, if you take the time to get your self-control, well, under control you’ll be able to improve your credit score, just be sure to avoid drastic measures that can hurt you in the long run,like payday loans and similar offers.

    5. Change can be a lifesaver

    Ok, so you went to work, took a stroll through town, got some coffee and finally got home. Now, pull out a jar, a bowl or something and drop all that change that you have left into it. Most cynics are probably going “Yeah right, some loose change is going to save my budget”, but you’d be amazed at how much money you can save like this. Furthermore, you are not strictly relying on change to save you, it is a cumulative effect and every little bit counts.

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    6. Tax deduction is an art

      It is a bit difficult to address this money saving option because the benefits and laws vary from country to country, but there are always ways to pay less taxes and save money. This requires extensive research and complicates your paperwork a bit, but once you get past these initial difficulties the amount of money you save is well worth the effort. Charitable donations are a good example of doing something good and getting a tax deduction, but there are many more options out there.

      7. Forgetting about extra cash to boost your savings

      If you get a raise, pay off a loan or get some other influx into your budget, you might want to keep “paying” for it a bit longer. Think about it, the habit is already there and all you need to do is transfer that extra cash into your savings account. This is probably the easiest way to build up your credit score and boost your savings account without really having to change anything. You’ll still need that cash influx though.

      Don’t let things spiral out of control, act fast and get things in order before things become too much for you to handle by yourself. It might sound stupid, but the bigger your debt, the faster it grows. It’s far better to tighten up your belt and take a couple of months to get things in order than to constantly stress about being in the red.

      Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/u/paul-kunitsky-12238/ via pexels.com

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      Ivan Dimitrijevic

      Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

      Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

      Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

      Identifying All of Your Debts

      The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

      Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

      1. Own Your Debt

      Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

      Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

      2. Make a Debt Tracker

      It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

      Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

      3. Get Your Debt Number

      Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

      Prioritizing Your Debts

      All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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      1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

      Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

      There are three main types of bad debt:

      • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
      • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
      • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

      Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

      • Student Loan Debt
      • Mortgage Loan
      • Business Loans

      2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

      Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

      Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

      If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

      3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

      Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

      Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

      Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

      1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

      “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

      It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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      Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

      Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

      2. Hide Your Credit Cards

      If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

      Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

      3. Automate Everything

      Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

      4. Plan Ahead

      Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

      For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

      5. Live Cheaply

      The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

      • Live with roommates
      • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
      • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
      • Take public transit or bike to work

      Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

      The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

      If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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      1. Maintain a High Credit Score

      Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

      • Never miss a payment
      • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
      • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
      • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
      • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

      2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

      Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

      Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

      If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

      How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

      Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

      1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

      Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

      Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

      2. Earn More Money

      There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

      Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

      Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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      Talk to Your Boss

      Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

      Start a Side Hustle

      This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

      Build an Online Business

      There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

      3. Celebrate Your Wins

      As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

      While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

      4. Set New Financial Goals

      Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

      Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

      These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

      Conclusion

      Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

      Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

      More Tips on Getting out of Debt

      Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

      Reference

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