Once you learn to prioritise your debt, planning and scrutinising through it will come easy
Notwithstanding more pressing issues such as home/student/automobile loans, many adults, old and young alike, often find themselves being sucked into the familiar yet terrifying whirlpool called debt. Daily habits that initially seem inconsequential, such as your precious weekend Netflix account or buying lunch at work five days a week, could end up culminating into an avalanche hard to avoid, especially if you are already in debt. Here are a few ways in which we can get through such grim situations together.
1. First of all, change your habits. Re-evaluate necessities, eradicate practices that hamper your way to paying off debt. Lessen those shopping sprees, switch to water from coffee, cut down on the weekend getaways. Most importantly, devote some time every day to thinking about your expenses, and how you can spend money in a way that will not add to your debt. Ask yourself what you can change without sacrificing your everyday lifestyle too much, and adjust accordingly.
2. Create a budget. "The first step to solving your debt problem is to establish a budget," writes former U.S. News contributor David Bakke. Chalk out all your possible solutions and scrutinise these categories thoroughly to find out exactly where you can minimise costs. Scaling back on spending, as harsh as it may sound, is one of the first steps to get a headstart in pushing yourself out of the debt-hole.
3. List out all your debt and include clear headings: the name of your debt, (loan number, or the like) the type of debt (student loan, car loan, etc.) balance, interest rate, and the due date for payment. Make sure you aren’t missing any, because figuring out that you’ve forgotten a couple debts wouldn’t be a fun surprise when you’re halfway into your journey! Adequate planning is crucial. Remember, if you don’t have a proper strategy for paying off your debt, you’re not going to make much progress.
4. If you have a “high-stress” debt that is causing you an immense amount of worry, pay it off first. It will be a relief to have this first great burden off your head, and will provide a great amount of motivation for you to progress further with your plan.
5. Choose: should you pay a debt off using the avalanche or snowball method (or a combination of the two)? Make sure your strategies are fool-proof so that they do not backfire and end up tumbling you into greater distress.
6. Always have an emergency fund ready. This is extremely crucial, but not for you to dip into every now and then to fund your spa sessions! You might have an unexpected medical expense to deal with one fine day, which will cause you to make only minimum payment on your debt. Such unexpected expenses are the reason to diligently cultivate your emergency fund, and having extra funds set aside means you have less of a chance of ending up in more debt than you started with.
7. Halt your credit card spending. “Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping,” advises former contributor Sabah Karimi. "Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control," she writes.
8. Try to avoid future debt. One of the biggest goals while paying off debt should be starting and building a savings account, which will come in handy the next time your car breaks down. Begin by saving between 10 per cent to 30 per cent of your income, but if that’s not possible, then start even smaller, and simply do your best to get into the habit of saving.
What’s important is that you learn to prioritise your debt. Once you get the hang of that, planning and scrutinising will come easy. Assign your debt the importance it needs, and start to pay it off slowly. Remember not to let it get the better of you. You are stronger than it is.