It’s scarcely believable that we’re already over the hump in February. Where on earth has this year gone to? Even though the mists of 2015 have barely settled, this year is hurtling along, and now is as good a time as any to stop and take a breath, and ask yourself if you have got off on the right foot.
One of the most common New Year resolutions I’ve come across from speaking to friends is to escape the clutches of debt. Obviously something like a mortgage is a long-term fixture, but credit card debt can really accumulate over the holiday period, and it’s important to get on top of things as soon as possible.
It’s clearly a countrywide issue which affects most of us, given that average UK household debt (excluding mortgages) has increased to £6,617. So, in the quest to free up some budget in order to chip away at any debt you may have, here are five little winners for you…
1) Gather your focus
Mindset plays as big a role as anything. If you need to put it on your credit card to buy it – you can’t afford it. A handful of very small purchases on your card each month are fine (and can even be a good thing for your credit rating), but make sure that the sum total of this is well below the debt repayments you plan to make at the end of each month.
2) Make – and stick to – a budget
It sounds outdated, but it really is well worth putting pen to paper on your planned expenditure each week or month. Keep a track of what you spend your money on too. You may find it uncovers some avoidable spending habits.
3) Frugality is a state of mind
You’ll be amazed at what you can clamp down on, without too much sacrifice. Daily coffees from Costa, takeaway lunches, drinks and food at restaurants – these are all quick fixes. Take it a step further though, and investigate alternatives to your energy and/or mobile phone provider. Chances are, there’ll be a good deal out there if you’re open to change.
4) Don’t try keep up with the Jones’s
It’s human instinct to try and keep up with the lifestyles of those around us, but be honest with yourself. Do they simply earn more than you? Do they have more disposable income, perhaps as a result of lower expenses? Just rein it in, and stay within your means. Don’t let pride get the better of you!
5) Consolidate your debt
This can knock a chunk out of your debt almost immediately. When you consider that the APR on credit cards tends to be 18% and above, depending how much you usually pay off each month, it makes sense to gazump some or all of your high interest debts with a low APR personal loan. Debt consolidation not only leaves you with less to pay off, but can also bring an element of convenience if you were previously juggling multiple debts. Now you’ll just have one. Cheaper and easier – it’s a no brainer.
These tips should all help your cause if you’re looking for a quick and easy path to debt freedom. It comes down to simply prioritising your debts above all else, and then taking care of the rest from there. You’ll probably find that your new approach suddenly has you doing better on the liquidity front. However, don’t fall foul to the temptations of spending this extra cash. Save it up instead, so that you can truly reap the benefits of all your hard work and steadily move out of the red.