Getting out of debt is tough. It requires some serious self determination that a lot of us don’t have. Many of us usually don’t pay that much attention to our money, and tend to live life with more abandon than we ought to. The temptation to give in to those impulse purchases often outweighs our more thought out decisions. So how do we overcome these issues to actually get out of debt and start saving money?
Probably the most important tip on this list, is to track what you spend money on. The biggest problem that we have as spenders is really having no idea how much money we spend on things. A perfect example of this is coffee or food spending. If you’re anything like me, you probably spend way too much money on coffee. Even if you think you’re staying within a reasonable amount of your weekly budget, you probably aren’t.
Maybe your vice isn’t coffee, but new clothes or buying breakfast from your local cafe. Whatever it is, you need to start tracking it. You will most likely be totally blown away by how much you’re actually spending on that item.
Start with a plan. For example, say that you’ll track your spending for one month, starting on a specific date. Collect every receipt that you can for all your purchases, and print out your monthly bank statement for the tracked month. As long as you’re tracking expenses, you could easily add on how much you’re spending on different bills and payments as well, if you’re up for it.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when tracking your spending is to not judge yourself too harshly. It’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed when you see how much money you’re throwing at things that don’t last, and many people give up after just a short time because they simply don’t want to know anymore.
This blog post has some additional reading with great pointers on tracking spending. There are plenty of resources, applications, and monthly financial reporting sites online for helping you track money, so just do your research and experiment with them until you find one that works for you. Most importantly though, make an agreement with yourself that no matter how bad it is, you’ll stick it through.
Once you have an idea of where your money is going, it’s time to create a budget. One of the classic mistakes with creating a budget is underestimating how much you spend on a certain category, therefore setting up unrealistic expectations for yourself and ending in inevitable failure. Again, that’s why tracking your spending is so important, because you’ll have a better idea of how much to budget for each area of spending.
When you’re already in debt, saving money seems impossible. How can you possibly set money aside when you’re just paying off one debt after another? One amazing way to help lower your payments and save you money is to refinance your home loan or vehicle loan. When you first acquire a loan, you received whatever interest rate was available at that time. Over time, however, interest rates will fluctuate and you may be eligible to refinance with a lower rate.
Be aware that with some home loans, even when you refinance, may require or at least recommend a life cover policy in New Zealand to get the loan. Technically refinancing means replacing the old loan with a new loan, so you’ll have the new bank’s policies to contend with. Once completed however, and with a lower interest rate, you have an excellent opportunity to either pay off the loan sooner with the money saved, or use that money to deposit into a savings account.
Vehicle finance can be a bit more difficult to move around once you’ve locked in a rate. However, if you are refinancing a home loan, you may have the opportunity to round up your personal or commercial vehicle finance into the refinance package, so just make sure to inquire about it.
Allow some wiggle room
Have you ever tried to restrict something? As in, told yourself that you can’t have any added sugar this month, or will only cook from home during the week? It’s incredibly hard, isn’t it? When you’re working out your budget, remember to give yourself some wiggle room. The harder you restrict your budget, the more possibility that you’ll mess up and end up going overboard on spending.
Instead, make sure you make room in your budget for the fun things you really value, like that fancy coffee or a new piece of clothing every once in a while. By making space for it, you’ll have something to look forward to instead of totally cutting yourself off from it.
Take advantage of interest free offers
Not to be confused with opening up multiple credit cards, take advantage of offers from your existing credit and bank accounts as often as you can. Call around to your accounts and find out if there are any offers such as a 0% interest rate on balance transfers for your existing accounts. You might be able to move some money from a high interest rate account to a much lower one to save you money in the long run on interest.
If your current credit cards are high interest and no real benefit such as cashback offers, it might be worth looking into closing that account and moving money to a credit card that benefits you. Just be aware that opening and closing accounts can have an affect on your credit rating, so make sure you are in a position to do so before going haywire on applying for accounts.
If you search online for tips on getting out of debt and saving money, you’ll find a plethora of varying information that you’ve probably heard before. This article may also have things you’ve heard before, but trust us, what’s listed here is incredibly important. Make a goal with yourself to follow just one of the tips listed above at first, and stick with it. We can’t promise you’ll be out of debt quickly, but that you’ll at least have a better understanding of how you got there in the first place, and a map for getting out of it.