Some people fare better than others under the weight of debt. Whereas one person may be anxious about a few thousand dollars of credit card debt, another might not feel the strain until they reach $50,000—or even more. No matter where you are on the tolerance scale, here are ten sure-fire ways to reduce your debt so you and your family can start feeling happier and healthier.
1. Build a budget
How many times has someone told you to create a budget? There’s a reason why so many financial gurus tout this as one of the best ways to get back on financial track — it works! A budget will help you put your money where it matters, manage day-to-day spending, reduce debt, and build wealth.
People spend less when they pay with cash, so if you combine your budget with the envelope system, your money management is more tactile and usually more successful. (Oh, and burn the credit cards!)
2. Focus your energy and money
Make a list of all of your debts. Begin with the smallest and end with the largest. Do not consider the interest rate. Begin your path to debt-free living by paying off the smallest debts first. Focus all your energy and extra income on paying the minimum payment toward larger debts and knocking the smaller debts entirely off the list.
3. Make saving a mission
If you’re not couponing, there’s no time like the present. Finding discounts and coupons has never been easier, which is probably why 86% of Australian shoppers favor shopping with discounts and coupons. There’s no limit to the amount of money you can save by shopping at stores offering discounts or waiting to purchase items until a coupon becomes available.
4. Develop your shopping strategy
Plan shopping trips by making a list and sticking to it. Resist the urge to impulse buy and, if you must make a large purchase, save for it rather than put it on a credit card. Watch for coupons to be sure your dollars go further.
5. Cancel the cable
With nearly 14 million Australians now accessing pay television services, it’s time to cancel the cable. Many households pay $100 a month, or even more, for premium channels, but using services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime families can put as much as $85 toward other bills.
6. Kick the coffee to the curb
Well, you don’t have to kick the habit, but why not make coffee at home? Especially since you’ve likely been working from the spare bedroom since March. The average barista-made cup costs about $6. If you’re stopping by just once a day, you could save about $2,000 by making your own brew.
7. Halt the hobbies
Put an end to expensive hobbies and all the extras that go with them. Go for a hike, take a run, play in the park. These activities will keep you feeling fit without the fees. It’s not just sports that are expensive. Do you need a new drone? Camera? While you’re working to reduce debt, hang onto older equipment, and eke out every last useful moment.
8. Get a gig
Gig sites are all over the web, so no matter what your secret power, you can use it to reduce debt. Sites such as Fiverr and Upwork are great for freelancers such as designers and developers, but Uber and Lyft are side-hustles that can take you from financially impaired to financially prepared.
9. Sell or rent the car
Companies such as GoGet and Popcar are car-sharing platforms where you can put your big, metal beast to work for you. Some car-sharing platforms even allow you to use their cars for gig work such as DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, and Amazon deliveries. If none of that appeals to you, maybe it’s time to sell the car and bank the cash.
10. Just say no
As you embark on your debt diet, the best word you can add to your vocabulary is NO. Just say no to the kids when they want the latest game, say no to the spouse’s idea of a holiday in Spain, say no to the family member or friend that needs a few bucks. When it’s time to spend money, this should be the first word that comes to mind.
Getting out of debt is hard work. With the state of the worldwide economy, it’s harder now than ever, but it’s not impossible. The key to eradicating debt is keeping a steady pace. Some months will be more difficult than others — unforeseen expenses are savings-killers — but you can do it. Get the family involved, even the kids, and work at it together. After all, once you reach your goal, the entire family will breathe easier.