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6 Important Tips for Getting Your Home Finances in Order

6 Important Tips for Getting Your Home Finances in Order

When it comes to financial issues, people tend to get a little edgy, and rightfully so. There is plenty of advice out there that is somewhat unrealistic or takes things to an extreme (things like cutting costs by only having one vacation a year or firing your driver don’t exactly apply to the average citizen). At the same time, focusing on comical penny-pinching at the expense of basic human dignity—e.g. not flushing when you go to the bathroom, like some people advise—won’t make much of a difference anyway. Such advice only leaves you frustrated because online advice columns seem to mistake average working and middle class people, who have a lower income and want to make the most out of their pay check—with down-on-their-luck hobos.

The truth is that there are some changes you can make that will make a big difference in terms of your home finances, without sacrificing much in the way of comfort. I won’t lie to you—it takes a decent amount of self-control, planning and some effort to get your finances in order, but with a good strategy you won’t be giving up much.

1. Find a big, useful goal or item that is worth saving money for.

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Setting a goal

    It’s difficult to get yourself on board with spending less and putting some money aside if you don’t have a good goal in mind. You need to look for an effective source of motivation, something that will be in the back of your mind every time you think about making impulsive purchases. This can be something like a great vacation on a tropical island, a new car, home renovation or moving into a bigger house. The thing is, you can combine different goals, even something that’s not directly related to money—e.g. if you spend less money on sweets and soda, you will lose weight and have more money. You should always have that big goal in mind and think about how the money you want to spend on insignificant things in the spur of the moment can actually bring you a step closer to what you really want.

    2. Make paying off your debt a priority, but choose a good strategy.

    You can’t really take control of your finances until you have managed to free yourself of debt. This might seem like a long and arduous journey, and it is, but it can be done in a reasonable amount of time. First of all don’t fall for those minimum payments as they are designed to keep you in debt for a long time. Second, you have good strategies like snowballing, where you start paying off smaller debts first while keeping the rest at minimum payments, and you even have online tools available to help you out. It is important to exercise a little bit of control when it comes to spending money during this strategy—you don’t have to say goodbye to luxuries; just don’t go above your means and buy only what you can afford with the money that’s left over from the bills and payments.

    In case you are facing a lot of debt that you don’t know how to handle, you may need to negotiate with the creditors or even try a debt-settlement program. Make sure you do some research and find reputable companies that offer a good and reasonably priced service, as there are plenty of frauds out there that are only after your money. So, there are plenty of options for everyone, even in worst-case scenarios.

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    3. Start doing DIY projects around the home instead of going to the store.

    You’d be surprised at how many things you can fix, improve and make yourself around the house and save a lot of money on repair bills, cleaning products, new furniture, decorations and much more. It is fairly cheap to caulk windows and make small repairs. This combined with adding thick curtains and draft protectors can help you save some money on heating bills and keep you warmer in the winter. An old piece of furniture can be made to look brand new with a bit of glue, sandpaper and a paint job—I’ve had friends ask about my cool new table, after I had worked over the table that was sitting in the living room for 10 years and had put some wood grain print decorative paper on the top. Most of these projects are cheap and require nothing much than some hard work and creativity, yet they can look incredibly good.

    4. Plan your shopping carefully and stock up on what you need once a week or once a month.

    Shopping for groceries

      No one says you can’t go to a restaurant from time to time—just make it a less expensive one for the time being—or order a pizza. However, stocking up on food has its advantages. You will always have something in the fridge and pantries when you’re hungry and you won’t have to make trips to the store in the middle of your quiet time, which means you’ll also save some money on gas. You can go online and find some cost-effective brands for any type of food you need, complete with nutritional facts for the health-conscious.

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      There are also sales and special offers at stores you can check out online, as well as coupons that can be printed out. Buying in bulk can also get you a discount, and making fewer shopping runs and buying in advance can also help you manage your budget a bit better. Plan a big weekly store run for most of your groceries, and a monthly or even bimonthly run for household chemicals, hygiene products and canned goods.

      5. Cook your own food, and cook it in bulk.

      Take a page out of the bodybuilder playbook and start preparing your own food. It’s much cheaper to get a bunch of ingredients and prepare a dozen tasty meals than it would be to eat twelve meals at a restaurant. You have plenty of great recipes and cooking tutorials online, so it’s not all that difficult to become a decent cook with a month or two of practice. Cooking plenty of food at once and then keeping it in plastic containers in the fridge allows you to prepare enough food for the next 3–4 days in one go. This is great for healthy lunch recipes that feature fish, chicken or ground beef, combined with a whole lot of vegetables. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones, and can be cooked fairly quickly.

      Not only will you be saving time and making sure there’s always a tasty and healthy meal ready to go, but you will be saving money on your electricity bill as you won’t be cooking all that often—you can prepare enough food for several days in about 60–120 minutes. If you’ve stocked up on food, it also means that you can throw together a sandwich or make some mac and cheese quickly when you want a bit of a change.

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      6. Go green and start caring about the environment.

      Green earth

        Yep, being a green-minded hippie can actually pay off. Caring about the environment is all about recycling, not letting the water run all the time while you shave or apply your shower gel in the shower, turning off the lights and TV when you’re not using a room, not heating up the house to tropical temperatures in the winter, being careful about your car’s emissions and so on. You might also recognize these things as some of the most common energy-saving and frugal living tips. Just start being more or less eco-conscious and you will soon notice that you are saving a decent amount of money; plus you’re being fashionably green instead of cheap in everyone’s eyes.

        Putting the reins on your spending and taking control of your finances is not a project—it requires a few major long term lifestyle changes. You simply can’t get around that fact or make things easy. What you can do is find the right motivation, create a good strategy that ensures that you will be covering your basic costs of life, slowly paying off your debt and setting some money aside, all while not entire giving up the comfort that you are used to. It’s just a matter of getting used to a different way of thinking and making smarter choices.

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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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