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5 Steps that Will Help You Cope with Your Debt

5 Steps that Will Help You Cope with Your Debt

There is an old saying that goes something like this “He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing”, and I couldn’t agree more. In the good old days, borrowing was considered the last resort for a person in need, but nowadays it seems that everybody has some sort of debt, no matter how small. Our society is built upon the idea of credits and loans and the more you take, the more you need. The more you have, the more you want. And no matter what we do, we end up paying the price, sometimes for years. Chances are that at some point, some fancy guy in a suit will knock on your door and take everything you have. Luckily, all problems have solutions. So in order to get out of debt, or at least limit your debt, there are 5 steps that must be taken.

Step #1: Make Your Problems Your Priorities

It doesn’t matter if you work for a minimum wage or earn a decent living. With all these temptations, it is hard to stop getting loans and credits. The truth is that debts have become a normal part of our lives according to recent studies, and we are more often than not tempted to take on more than we can handle.

And although there is nothing more rewarding than standing on your own two feet, it is hard to do it with no debt whatsoever. College life is expensive, so you choose a student loan. Then, you want your own apartment or house, you get married, you have kids, you need cars and a change into the household appliances every now and then. And many people don’t get rich overnight, nor do they win the lottery or land on a gold mine. So credits and loans are the only solution to lead a normal life, like everyone else. But unless you want to spend the rest of your life paying interest, and worrying about your overdo payment, you have to take steps to dissolving your debt. Make the clearing of all your unresolved financial issues a top priority, and no matter what interference might occur, stick to your plan.

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Step #2: Stop Spending Your Money on Useless Stuff

It isn’t easy to embrace the frugal lifestyle, but nowadays there are so many resources and living examples of people who did it and who are living a care-free life, that you can’t be scared of trying it yourself. You know the saying “less is more”, so try applying it in your own life. Do you really need to buy all the junk you find in stores? I know you love chocolate, and you’re craving for a dinner out in the town, but you should focus on things that actually matter if you ever want to start moving forward. And it’s not a matter of giving up, it is a matter of simply clearing that cloudy sky and making a difference in your lifestyle, by creating balance. Balance leads to well-being.

Plus, you’d be amazed at how much money you can save if you put a little effort into it. Here is an idea to experiment: every time you go into the supermarket, try to think if you really need a certain item, and if you don’t, put the amount of money you would have spent on it somewhere else. Check that little deposit in a few weeks. And smile.

Step #3: Dealing with the Reality of Debt

If you accepted the fact that you have a debt problem and that you have to stop spending money on things that lack importance, the next step is to actually deal with the reality of debt. This means understanding the fact that although the bank may be offering you loans and credits for personal needs or for business needs, it certainly does not hold back from taking it all away when payments are not made in time. You go from wanting it all to losing even the little you had.

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There are many online resources and finance blogs that can advise you how exactly to deal with your debt in your country and which debt tools to make use of. In Australia, for example, debtconsolidation.com.au shows us that consolidation tools such are repayment are the most preferred ones. A repayment plan of your home loan would look like this:

    In other countries, people prefer to make one big loan, so they can cover all the other small ones.The most important focus of this strategy is that you will no longer risk missing payments and getting into more problems, because there is only one big problem that you have to worry about. It might sound a bit harsh, but having just one problem to deal with can be a life saver.

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    Step #4: Write Everything Down, Keep a Check List and Open a Savings Account

    It may not sound like the best advice, but writing down all your costs and profits will significantly help you manage your money. How exactly, you might wonder? It is simple: if you are diligent, and never forget to write everything in a notebook, you will be able to make a grand total at the end of the month/week, and see exactly what it is that is burning a hole through your pockets. To add more, try keeping things organized in a check list, so that you know what is a must and what can be saved for later. Organizing your spending budget is a key part in preventing new unwanted debts.

    Remember, we want to deal with each problem at a time, so preventing unwanted problems is also a smart way of living. Each time you managed to do something, even if it is just a simple action as to giving back some borrowed money, check list it. But what about holidays and expenses? Well, open up a savings account. Be it for Easter, Christmas, or other holidays and birthdays. It’s better to plan ahead. So if you want to spend some money, but not over do it, then this is the answer. Wondering what to do and where to “cut” from, so you can save money? Scroll up to Step 1 and read the experiment suggestion again and then come back to Step 5. Now you know where to start.

    Additional Pieces of Advice

    1. Never Give Up

    It takes a few weeks to get into serious debts, but you might be paying for this mistake your entire life. Nevertheless, if you have found yourself in a truly dire situation, where everything looks as though it could come crashing down in the blink of an eye, try to remain calm. Put your patience hat on, stay strong, and try to make the best out of what you have.

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    2. Stay Positive

    Optimism is the key to give peace to our minds. Nothing good will come out of stressing yourself. Remember that important lesson in math class: every problem has a solution. Stay focused and find it through creative realistic ways. But before that, keep your mind sane, so that it functions to its full potential.

    3. Carefully Choose Your Words and Your Actions

    Think, before talking and acting. Your actions can have side effects on your happiness and on the happiness of your dear ones. There are so many people who are consumed by their financial issues and still fail to understand that money does not bring happiness and luckily, there still are plenty of things money can’t buy.

    Word of advice: never joke around or say “I am forever in your debt” to a bank representative. He might take your word on that one.

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    Roxana Nasoi

    Jedi of all kinds

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

    In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

    5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

    Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

    1. Be Clear About the Objectives

    Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

    It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

    Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

    2. Keep Them Realistic

    It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

    It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

    3. Account for Inflation

    Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

    Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

    For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

    4. Short Term vs Long Term

    Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

    As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

    More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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    5. To Each to His Own

    The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

    It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

    By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

    11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

    Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

    • Ensuring healthy savings
    • Making smart investments

    You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

    Ensuring Healthy Savings

    Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

    This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

    1. Track Expenses

    The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

    Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

    2. Pay Yourself First

    Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

    Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

    The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

    Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

    3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

    Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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    Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

    At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

    Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

    You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

    4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

    Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

    If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

    Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

    All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

    5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

    In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

    Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

    Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

    If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

    If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

    So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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    6. Talk About It

    Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

    Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

    7. Maintain a Journal

    For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

    So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

    Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

    When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

    At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

    Making Smart Investments

    Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

    8. Consult a Financial Advisor

    Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

    Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

    9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

    Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

    Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

    Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

    It is here where that classification will help.

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    So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

    10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

    Einstein once remarked about compounding,

    Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

    So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    11. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

    If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

    Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

    As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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