We all want to be rid of the burden of having debt in our lives. The interesting thing is that having some debt can be a positive thing because it can be used as an instrument to help build up investments. This is only the case if you know what you’re doing but most of the time the average individual doesn’t. The majority of us have excessive debt in the form of student loans, car payments, mortgages etc. Heavy personal debt can be very frustrating and weigh on us daily to the point where we lose sleep over it and believe that it will always be a part of our lives. Fortunately this doesn’t have to be the case!
As a single Mom I know personally what having crippling debt is like. I had to work hard, but mostly smart at trying to chip away and eliminate it. The hardest part honestly was facing it. You can live in a state of denial about anything. And this is what paralyzed me for a long time.
After getting over the initial shock, embarrassment, disbelief, and dismay I was able to recover and face it head on. After all, I had no choice. I sat down with ‘the enemy’ my debt, and made a plan. I didn’t use a financial planner because I didn’t want to pay for one. It was rough for a while but we managed. Now I’d like to share with you the 10 steps I used to help get rid of my debt.
10 Steps To Help Get Rid Of Debt
Overpay on Monthly Bills
That growing interest on the amount you owe is a killer. The only way to prevent it from growing into an unmanageable beast is to slay it by paying more.
Whatever you do, never pay the minimum payments on credit cards, mortgages, car payments etc.
Even paying $50- $100 a month extra will cut off significant compounding interest and time that you owe on paying off your debt.
Just make sure that there’s no Pre payment penalties!
If you come into more money by getting an extra job, inheriting, winning the lottery or whatever, put it immediately right towards that debt!
Here’s a long list of ways to make extra money either in your spare or full time.
If you have a mortgage for instance and add an additional money to it every month plus find a way to re-finance to a lower rate you could potentially pay off your house much early than expected.
Learn To Embrace Budgeting
Many people groan over the word budget. I know I did. After all it’s kind of like the word ‘diet’. It represents deprivation of some kind. But in fact it’s simply an estimate of income or expenditure. We’ve just come to think of it as something negative.
It’s really important to live within your means. It’s as simple as that. Not really though. Especially when you have kids and they need things all the time like sports equipment, braces, violin lessons etc. Believe me! I know!
For all my monthly expenses the envelope system worked really well for me. I stopped using credit cards period. I only used my debit card. So if I didn’t have the actual money in my account I couldn’t do it.
For grocery shopping I allotted a certain amount each month for that in an envelope. I stuck to super basic foods that were on sale and hardly any commercial name brand products.
We did not eat out. We hardly ate any red meat. Beef is expensive! Turkey is much lower and has a lot of protein.
Learn to love H2O. If you need carbonated water get one of those machines that makes water carbonated. You’ll save tons on seltzer cans, and help the environment as well.
Keep meals basic and it’s much easier on your budget as well as your waistline. You’ll find you may lose weight too! And no, not from starving but because you’re eating a ‘clean’ minimalistic diet. Without all the unnecessary fillers.
Take whatever money is leftover and put it towards your debt balance. Make it a habit to always do this.
The bottom line is overspending is what makes people get in way over their heads to begin with. This is true with money as well as with gaining weight.
The Envelope System Works!
I mentioned the envelope system and I have to stress it again because it really important in our digital age as money gets less tangible and seems less ‘real’.
Especially when young kids view parents whipping out credit cards for every little thing they probably get the idea that they can do the same thing. They may lack a real sense of any real money transactions taking place.
Basically all it involves is simply using different envelopes for different purposes and taking out cash from each envelope. It forces you to only spend what you have portioned for each necessity.
If you find you have leftover cash, you simply save your excess, maybe for Holiday gifts for example, or pay down your debt with it. This is a great way to stop you from overspending and forces you to stick to your budget.
Nix The Non Essentials
Time to cut the chord on cable! I know you keep talking about it. But meanwhile the extra $100 you’re spending on all those channels you don’t even watch is only helping the cable company.
If you must watch tv how about Netflix? It’s only something like $8 bucks a month.
And that gym down the street you keep saying you’re going to go to after work? You could be knocking down your car payment more.
Keeping your expenses permanently low is a must if you’re working towards financial independence.
Think of it this way:
Every time you drop your spending it has a powerful effect:
- You increase the amount you have left over to invest each month (thereby increasing your overall worth)
- You decrease the amount you need every month
- You teach your children positive lessons about being responsible with money
- You learn to focus on other valuable things you can do besides spend money
Make Extra Income
This is the best thing you can do to pay down debt because it is the most rewarding, most fun and the fastest.
Now you may be thinking, I could be making extra money to go on a nice vacation or buy my daughter that designer bag she wants for her birthday. But then you’ll just be in deeper debt and feeling worse!
You’ll get a much bigger sense of satisfaction taking a chunk of that money you made and seeing that debt shrinking more and more. Trust me!
I started this blog so I could earn more money from home part time. Now I do it full time and make a full time income from it.
If you want to start a blog you can read how to get started here.
Sell Your Stuff
This is what I started doing first after I assessed my debt. I went around my house and made piles of everything I didn’t need and determined that it would be of use to someone else.
These apps make it easy to take photos of your items that you have around your house or garage, upload them and sell them fast.
Heck, you could even turn doing that into a nice, profitable side hustle selling for other people!
Another thing I did was to sell digital downloads. Ebooks on Amazon, Ebooks for other authors, PDFs on helpful topics, printables. Here’s a list of the most profitable digital products you can sell.
Some folks make a full time living selling their services on Fiverr.com Whether that be proofreading, editing, web design services, social media, writing, even voiceovers and giving advice!
Consolidate & Debt Avalanche
I took a look at all the ridiculously high interest rates I was paying and transferred balances to lower interest rate cards.
So if I had a high balance on a card that had a rate of 17.99% I transferred the balance to a 0% interest rate or a 3.99% rate or whatever the lowest rate available that I could get.
You can check rates on bankrate.com for credit cards, mortgages and more.
Then I used the avalanche method to help pay off my credit card debt. I made a list of all my debt balances. And made minimum payments on all of them except one.
I targeted the debt with the highest interest rate and made the largest payment I could to knock that one down as fast as possible.
This method designed by Dave Ramsey is very popular because it works!
With this method, you also make a list of all your debt and make minimum payments on all of them except for one.
You make the highest payment you can on the debt with the LOWEST balance.
The idea behind this method is that it makes you really motivated. Once you knock down that debt then you work towards the next and so on until you’re left with more manageable debt.
Growing up in NYC we never had a car or a mortgage. My parent’s motto was ‘live like a king and rent everything’. Living in CT I had a both, and when I finally sold my house it was at a loss due to the state of the market. A true learning experience.
Fortunately before that I was able to refinance to a lower rate. I had a painfully high mortgage that ate up practically 70% of my cost of living!
If you’re able to refinance you can go from a 30yr mortgage to a 15yr if you get a good deal. Add a payment on top of that as often as you can and you can pay off your mortgage even faster.
Remember to check for any pre payment penalties!
Getting rid of debt is just like trimming the fat. There are always ways that you can scrimp and save that don’t have to be painful.
Here’s a summary how to eliminate your debt:
- Sell as much non essential stuff as possible (electronics, clothes, media etc)
- Overpay on monthly bills
- Eat in
- Stop buying expensive retail
- Stop using credit cards
- Use the Envelope System for budgeting cash
- Consolidate credit cards to low interest rate cards
- Use the Debt Avalanche method
- Use the Debt Snowball method
- Eat simple, basic meals (no more lattes from Starbucks!)
- Shop at big box or discount stores
- Never buy ‘New’ – Instead purchase gently used items
- Shop for lower insurance plans
- Stop buying non essentials (is it a luxury or a necessity?)
- Cut the Cable chord
- Cut gym membership
- Get a car with better fuel economy
- Start a blog or get a side hustle!
- Live a more minimalistic lifestyle
Money, depending upon how you use it can be a blessing or a curse. Becoming debt free is a worthy goal and gives you a sense of freedom that you deserve to have. It’s also absolutely possible!
Don’t limit your thinking and believe that you are trapped in this pattern. Take the steps to day to unleash yourself from debt!
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