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A Get Out of Debt Strategy That Works

A Get Out of Debt Strategy That Works

    You’ve decided this is the year you’re going to get out of debt once and for all. You’re committed, you’re determined, now the only thing you need is a plan. There are many plans for debt reduction, but they all generally include the same elements. Debt accumulates over time for a variety of reasons. So, it is expected that time will be required to reduce that debt as well.

    Be patient and take it one step at a time…you’ll see results.

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    Get a clear picture

    You have to understand the reality of your indebtedness. It’s impossible to make a plan to reduce debt if you don’t know the extent of it. Be honest. It does no good to deceive yourself about the amount of accrued debt.

    Stop digging the hole

    Don’t accumulate more debt. It’s a never-ending cycle with no way out. Spending habits must change for any plan to be successful. It’s crucial to live within your means, (below your means preferably,) in order to apply that money to debt repayment.

    Build an emergency fund

    Plan for emergencies first. A savings cushion is imperative for several reasons; it will allow some small modicum of security, you will be prepared for a crisis, and you will have liquid reserves for those instances when only cash will do.

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    Figure out where the money will come from

    Track your spending for a while if necessary. Create a budget or if you prefer, call it a spending plan. Make cuts where possible, but be sure to make it livable. A budget does no good if it’s not possible to stick to it.

    Increase your income if possible. Take on extra work where available, volunteer for overtime, or find a second job. Most people don’t want to hear that, but if you seriously want to eliminate debt, sacrifice is necessary. The extra effort will pay off, literally.

    Liquidate other assets

    Consider liquidating other assets. Experts don’t recommend taking money out of a retirement funds, because that will have serious repercussions in the long term. Taking out a second mortgage is the most common tactic, but be careful before you do that. Only resort to borrowing further against your home if you can firmly commit to stopping the cycle of overspending, otherwise you will just accumulate more debt. You are putting your home at risk, so make sure it’s worth it.

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    Do you have any investments or possessions you can sell? While you may be earning interest on your investments, if it’s less than the interest rate on your debt, they may be worth liquidating Consider selling unnecessary equipment, (boats, extra cars, etc.) or valuable jewelry if it doesn’t have extreme sentimental value.

    Decide on a debt reduction plan

    There are many methods to reduce debt. None is better or worse than the other. It’s a matter of choosing what’s the most comfortable for you. Money is a very emotional thing, and so debt reduction is partly mental. Find a plan that you can commit to.

    One option is to pay off the credit card or loan with the smallest balance. Be sure to make the minimum payments on other debts, but concentrate on paying off one debt at a time. Once the smallest debt is retired, move on to the next smallest. The advantage of this method is mostly mental. It allows you to gain momentum and the sense that you’re making progress.

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    Another option is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate. This is generally the most financially advantageous. By eliminating the higher rate credit cards, you’ll reduce the amount of interest that is paid overall. Once again, move to the next debt item with the highest rate.

    A third option is to eliminate the oldest debt first. Old debts have been hanging around for a long time. These debts have most likely taken an emotional toll. If you finished college 15 years ago and you’re still paying off your student loans, go ahead and pay those first. You’ll feel a tremendous sense of relief.

    No matter the extent of your debt, it’s not hopeless. However, commitment and persistence are vital. Whatever method you choose, if you’re consistent, you will be successful.

    (Photo credit:Get Out of Debt Key via Shutterstock)

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    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Last Updated on June 26, 2020

    25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

    25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

    “How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

    If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

    You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

    Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

    As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

    And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

    But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

    • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
      • food
      • rent/mortgage
      • cell phone
      • insurance
      • socializing/entertainment
      • transportation
      • hygiene products
      • household bills
    • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
      • travel
      • clothing
      • medication (*depends)
      • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
      • gifts

    Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

    Save Money on Food

    1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

    Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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    Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

    2. Buy the store-brand version

    Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

    3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

    Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

    4. Have group dinners

    If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

    Save Money in Transport

    5. Get a bicycle

    Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

    6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

    Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

    7. Find the cheapest gas

    Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

    Save Money in General Shopping

    8. Shop online

    Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

    9. Sell your old stuff

    Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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    Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

    10. Bulk buying stores

    For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

    Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

    11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

    You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

    12. Generic brand medication

    More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

    13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

    It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

    Cut Down on Household Expenses

    14. Printing

    Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

    e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

    Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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    15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

    A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

    16. Shop around for insurance

    Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

    Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

    17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

    If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

    18. Don’t get a TV

    Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

    19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

    My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

    Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

    20. Have house parties

    Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

    For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

    21. Open festivals, meetups and events

    It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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    22. Volunteer

    If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

    23. Housesit

    There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

    Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

    24. DIY beauty

    French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

    25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

    If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

    Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

    Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

    • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
    • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
    • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
    • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
    • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
    • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
    • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

    Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

    What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

    Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

    More Tips for Personal Finance Management

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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