While some debt, like mortgages, is not necessarily bad, too much of it can cripple a person’s ability to do what they want when they want and in extreme cases can lead to severe stress. Even when the only debt is mortgage debt, many people enjoy being debt free as soon as they can so here are 4 top tips for getting you there.
1. Set aside a budget for play
This may seem like a strange piece of advice for getting out of debt, but unless you can realistically clear off your whole debt by living on beans on toast for a couple of months, then you are going to need to allow yourself some breathing room.
The danger of trying to follow and extreme debt-management plan over an extended period is that it will simply become too depressing and you’ll wind up throwing in the towel and undoing all your good work on a spending binge.
By setting aside a budget for fun activities, you can set yourself and additional, but fun, challenge, seeing what you can do with it. There are lots of activities which can be enjoyed for very little money, for example walking is free, but it’s nice to have a fare to somewhere new and some money to buy some food and drinks to take along. Sometimes taking up a hobby can even save money, for example, by making your own gifts on special occasions.
2. Create ground rules for yourself and your family and friends
One of the key steps in getting out of debt is to work out how you got into it in the first place. While some people end up in financial difficulties for reasons beyond their control (such as illness or unemployment), many people find themselves in debt simply through poor money management and quite simply living beyond their means.
Where this has happened, people may have developed a social circle formed of people on a higher income, who can afford the lifestyle they lead and it may be difficult to get out of debt while maintaining existing friendships.
The truth of the matter, however, is that real friends will understand and will adapt to your new ground rules for living within your means – provided that you make it clear to them what they are.
3. Be prepared to invest time and money in yourself
For most people, being able to pay the bills involves working for a living and in today’s world the more skills and experience you can offer, the better your employment possibilities.
As well as looking at free online courses, such as the ones offered by the Open University, many charities offer long-term volunteers the opportunity to undertake relevant qualifications which are also recognized by employers, while many local educational institutions offer courses on a low budget.
If nothing else, these courses will be something interesting to do for a low price, but many of them can help improve your employment prospects and thereby your income.
4. Make a plan and keep checking that it is working
Most people need some sort of formal plan to get out of debt, if only to keep them on track. This site offers lots of debt advice and practical ways to get out of debt.
The key to creating an effective plan is to base it on realistic expectations and to keep checking it to ensure that it is having the desired effect. Many people take several attempts to create a debt-management plan which is both effective and reasonable.
It’s easy to remember to budget for expenses like food, but may be more challenging to remember to budget for necessary occasional expenses, such as new shoes.
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