Tag Archives: debt

My top 10 tips for paying off debt

As my journey to debt freedom draws to an end, I’d like to share the 10 things that had the biggest impact to reducing my debt. I haven’t included ‘making a budget’ as I think that is a given!

I’ve separated these points into 2 categories:

Action and Attitude

I believe the Actions you take and the Attitude you have while paying off debt are intrinsically linked. You can’t take action without the right attitude.

5 ACTIONS that helped me pay off debt

Saying No

Learning to say no – to people, to purchases and to yourself plays a huge role in winning the war on debt. I found declining invites from friends for nights out, drinks, weekends away etc to be really tough. Tough, but an essential action to take if you want to set yourself free from debt.

While I didn’t tell friends and family how much debt I was in when I started the journey, I did make it clear that I was making a serious effort to tighten purse strings to pay back debt, and that meant I had to cut some fun things out for awhile. Quite awhile. I learnt to say –  ‘I’m sorry, but I really can’t afford to do ABCXWZ this weekend, I’ve got a tough budget to stick to this week’

Most people understand, and if they don’t, well too bad. Certainly don’t sacrifice your budget for someone who doesn’t respect your goals. This doesn’t mean you can never go out and have fun while paying off debt – it just means prioritise the activities that mean something to you and choose those over spending cash on random nights out every Friday.

 

Record every single purchase you make for at least a month.

I actually recorded every purchase I made for a year. It became a habit and it was the key to becoming completely aware of everything I spent. I mean, if I spent  50cents on a packet of gum, I’d record it. Yep, that probably seems excessive – and sometimes it did get to me. But it helped by revealing patterns and behaviours in my spending and where I could ‘cut the junk’.

When I was fully aware of the things that burnt a whole in my pocket, I continued recording everything I spent as a habit to keep me on track. Debt and paying it off HAS to be at the front of your mind EVERY TIME you make a purchase (big or small) if you plan to win the war.

I just jotted down the purchase and the cost on the note section of my phone. Even the simple action of taking out my phone to add to my purchase list was an opportunity to check myself.  I had a moment to think about what I was about to spend and scan the list of the items already purchased that day / week.

So give it a go – 1 month. Record everything. You will be surprised (and potentially alarmed! 😉 ) at where your money is going.

Implement spend free days

I don’t know who originally coined the term Spend Free days in the world of PF blogging, but it really is a genius concept. Many bloggers out there set themselves spend free days and weeks (and months!)

I soon jumped on board to employ this effective little tactic in my own Get Debt Free strategy. I would regularly set myself 2 spend free days per week. These are days where you spend nothing, except on essential items – ie, a train ticket. Ok, so what stops you buying something you really want on non spend day? Well I saw the whole point of spend free days to curb mindless consumerism on the junk items.  You know, the stuff you buy without even thinking *hand goes to wallet, money comes out, I’m $10 poorer without even batting an eye*….. magazines, coffee, lunch takeout, a glass of wine after work, that kind of stuff. The point of my spend free days was to put a stop to spending without thinking. It worked.

 

Cut the junk STRAIGHT AWAY  

We spend money on so much SHIT. Seriously.  Cut the junk from your spending. Like, straight away. If you are in debt and looking to get debt free, frivolous expenses must go immediately. These purchases add nothing of real value to your life except a fleeting moment of satisfaction or more likely, distraction. Then it is all over red rover and you’ve spent 5 bucks on a magazine to read about the latest Kimye scandal.

Make your budget REALISTIC – it is ok to ease into it.

Yep, I know the enthusiasm…. you are all ready to pay off your debt and you want to go in, repayment guns a blazin’ and smash it out ASAP.

This type of excitement is exactly what you need to get the momentum going. But one of the side effects to this excited attitude is a rather optimistic approach to setting your budget. Which is turn can lead to disappointment, frustration and wanting to give it all up, a few months in when all the excitement has worn off.

I had a huge budget fail when I first set about paying off my debt in March 2013. I drew up a budget which showed I would be out of debt in October 2013. The budget was unrealistic. It didn’t account for EVERYTHING and it left me with very little spending money.  I knew for awhile it wasn’t working but I kept at it, and kept beating myself up when I went over budget (surprise, surprise) each month. Then I hit Debt Fatigue in a big way – I was WAY off my (unrealistic) goal and it would be another 8 months of debt repayment past October. Frustrated, disappointed and sick of debt – I stopped blogging for awhile, although I continued to make smaller repayments. Then I regrouped – I got my shit together with a realistic budget that included everything and set about attacking debt again with my new debt free date.

Set yourself up for success with a realistic budget. A good budget is not rigid, it’s flexible and fluid and allows you to adapt when you need too. When you look at your expenses, cut the junk first – without even considering keeping those items. Then, slowly, you can whittle down your expenses.  You will be surprised what you are happy to go without and places your budget can be cut further once you get into a momentum.

5 ATTITUDES that helped my pay off debt

Never EVER EVER give up

We all know the saying and it’s cliché for a reason.

If you don’t give up making repayments, you will be debt free. At some point. One Day. Maybe not when you thought – refer to my Budget Fail – but if you don’t stop making those payments, the numbers will continue to tick down. We all have shit days when paying off debt. The days we want to buy everything in sight, where we are angry, frustrated and generally just pissed off at the hold debt has on our lives. Don’t let any of those reasons make you give up. Giving up is not an option. Take another look at the budget, cut yourself some slack for a week or buy a nice little purchase for yourself. Then get back on the horse and keep going.

Own your OWN debt

You are in debt because of you. If you acknowledge you are in debt but refuse to blame yourself, well, you are going to get nowhere fast. The most important thing when making a financial life change is the long term change of bad financial habits or behaviours. If you are looking around at everyone else to blame for your situation, you will never change the habits that got you there in the first place.

Continue to give and pay your own way

Ok, so this is a dual tip – action and attitude. People with stingy attitudes towards giving will NEVER BE SATISFIED with what they have. Getting debt free isn’t about being stingy towards others. I have continued to donate to charities and causes I support. There will always be others worse off than you. Sure, debt sucks but I don’t struggle to put food on the table or pay my rent. Others aren’t so fortunate. Never think that your situation is the worst. Wherever there is a lack, there is an opportunity to give – so have a giving attitude. Also, don’t skip out on a round of drinks with your mates if you have chosen to go out for the night. If you can’t afford it, don’t go.

Don’t think you are alone

If your attitude is Woe Is Me, No One Else In The World Understands This Debt Thing, then take 2 seconds to type I’m In Debt into google and you will see no, you certainly are NOT alone. There are so many stories, so much inspiration, so much advice out there around getting out of debt, you should never feel alone. Ok, so maybe you are the only one in your family or circle of friends in debt, but investigate the resources available to you – and the support! The PF blogging world has been a huge inspiration to me.

And my last piece of advice?

Be passionate

A passionate attitude toward doing all you can to get out of debt, will see you realise that debt free date sooner than you thought possible. So get started today – and change your life! Debt free is set free.

So, there are my top 10 tips – I’d love to hear they number 1 thing that has helped you on your journey to debt freedom!

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The Debt Breakup – My 2014 financial plan

I am back to blogging.

Back with a financial plan for 2014. Back with more enthusiasm. Feeling awesome about reaching my goals.

My Biggest Debt Mistake of 2013

I set myself an unrealistic goal to be debt free by the end of 2013. That was my biggest mistake.

When I arrived back from travelling at the end of 2012, I was so overwhelmed by the amount of debt I was in, I felt like I must attack this debt with everything I had. Which is a good attitude in theory, but this mindset lead me to setting up an unrealistic plan and budget to knock out almost 15k in just 8 months. For some, this may very well be possible. For me it wasn’t. And without a flexible budget, when life gets in the way as – surprise, surprise – it does, I felt frustrated and un-motivated by the end of the year when I knew my goal was not possible.

Armed with this ‘be practical about stuff’ revelation, I have started 2014 with a different mindset and a more realistic financial plan – that actually (I hope!) covers everything.

And, this may come as a surprise, it is not necessarily to be debt free by the end of 2014.

The Debt Breakup plan for 2014:

  • Pay off $4000.00* of my remaining debt – currently at $5925.05
  • Save $10,500 for travelling at the end of 2014

Travel is the true motivator, the real reason behind wanting to rid myself of this debt. After I travelled in South America in 2012, I returned home with an even bigger passion to travel than I had before – but also with an epic amount of debt. While I was travelling, I still had to account for monthly repayments etc and it sucked up funds I could have used to go further and longer in my trip.

Ok, so yes, the above plan means I still will travel with SOME debt. However, not 14+k worth and what the  * means is I actually hope to pay off more than this.

By channelling any extra funds (tax return, payrise etc) into the debt, I hope to knock out more. But $4k is what I can comfortably pay and account for – therefore any extra is a bonus.

The most important thing is, I am comfortable with the above plan. And I am looking forward to blogging about my journey again, with renewed enthusiasm.

I will continue to update on my weekly expenses and each fortnight – on payday – I will post the budget for the coming fortnight. Which will pretty much remain similar or the same as the following:

My regular fortnightly budget

  • Rent: $295.00 – I split the rent with my boyfriend
  • Travel: $45.00 – Bus fare to and from work. Most days I am lucky enough to get a ride to work with my boyfriend so it is mostly just the journey home I pay for.
  • Phone: $15.00 – I have a prepaid phone and $30 recharge voucher lasts me the month – for calls and texts, mostly the data runs out before 30 days.
  • Internet: $15.00 – On an internet plan for $30.00 per month (not prepaid)
  • Electricity: $20.00 – We are yet to receive our first electricity bill, which we will split evenly, so at the moment I am putting $40 per month away for this but will adjust accordingly when the first bill arrives.
  • Gym: $23.90 – I spent a lot of time deliberating whether or not to keep my membership, and instead just work out at home with some basic equipment and running. However, the gym recently started offering classes at no additional cost to the membership, which is awesome,  and  I decided to keep my membership.
  • Groceries: $250.00 – Grocery costs I also split with my boyfriend and have been tracking the expenses on our grocery spending. Although it does sometimes vary, $250 is a good amount to put aside each fortnight.
  • Tithe / donation: $20.00 – I donate $40 a month to a children’s home in India run by a Christian pastor and his wife. The home assists young Indian girls create a life outside child prostitution which is rampant in that part of India. I was very moved by the pastor and his wife when they spoke at a church sermon here in Australia last year and decided to allocate my donation to the home. It is my plan to increase this amount slowly.
  • Loan repayment: $160.00 – My set monthly repayment is $173.00 so I have allocated another $73.50 per fortnight towards the loan.
  • Buffer: $50.00 – For the first time, I have allocated a ‘buffer’ amount into my budget. It isn’t too large but it is better than nothing!
  • Spending: $230.00 – Most weeks will leave me with $115.00 as spending / entertainment money.

So, where does that mean I will be saving each month? And what about other expenses?

As of 5th March, I will be saving $490.00 per fortnight. Up until then, the amount allocated for savings is smaller and varied, I will outline these in my fortnightly budgets.

At the start of this year I had a few expenses / additional things to save for. I am taking a week trip to New Zealand in February– YAY! – so I need to put spending money aside for that. I also have an interstate wedding (Mach) and interstate hen’s celebration (January).

These are the only interstate trips I am planning this year – last year flight costs etc burnt a big hole in my repayment plan. The trip to New Zealand will be my only holiday this year.

So, I built these additional things into my budget for the first 2 ½ months of the year – which is why  savings amounts are smaller until March.

So, let’s DO this!!

 

A note to say thanks to Eva @  Girl Counting Pennies – who has a fantastic blog and reading her Goals for 2014 really helped me get back on track  🙂 

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