Advertising
Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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)

    More by this author

    What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples How to Organize Your Thoughts: 3 Simple Steps to 10X Your Productivity How to Fall Asleep Fast and Have a Restful Sleep (The Definitive Guide) 10 Life Lessons People Should Learn Before They Turn 30

    Trending in Money

    1 13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget 2 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them 3 How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success 4 17 Practical Money Skills that Will Set You Up for Early Retirement 5 25 Things to Sell to Make Extra Money Easily

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Published on October 8, 2018

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

    Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

    So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

    1. Choose a major category each month to attack

    As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

    Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

    By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

    2. Only make major purchases in the morning

    If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

    Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

    Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

    3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

    Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

    The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

    Advertising

    Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

    4. Read one-star reviews for products

    Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

    By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

    Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

    5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

    If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

    The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

    Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

    This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

    6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

    One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

    While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

    The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

    Advertising

    7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

    Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

    That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

    That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

    8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

    Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

    If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

    Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

    Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

    This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

    9. Budget using cash and envelopes

    As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

    Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

    This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

    Advertising

    The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

    10. Join a like-minded group

    Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

    You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

    Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

    No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

    For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

    This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

    Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

    With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

    But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

    Advertising

    Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

    12. Take the Buddhist approach

    You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

    Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

    Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

    The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

    13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

    If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

    It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

    Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

    Conclusion

    Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

    However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Read Next