Most Americans are already in debt before graduating from college. The college loan is one of the most accessed loans in this country. College education is very expensive, but this is a great opportunity for students to get a degree even they don’t have enough money. Unfortunately, for many Americans, it will take them a lifetime to pay off this debt. And as one enters adulthood, he or she will get into even more debts: credit card, housing mortgage, car loans, etc.
So how do you pay off one debt after the other?
You have the capability to pay off all these debts by adjusting your expenses. The problem with a lot of people is that they take one look at their debts and realize that they are insurmountable. After looking at that debt, what you should do next is to look around your home and ask yourself: Are all these things necessary?
This is the most important step in order to pay off your debt. You cut down your expenses on things you don’t necessarily need. And for sure, there are a lot of things that you could cut back. Here are some of them:
A vehicle is necessary. But you don’t have to buy the most expensive make or model. Sometimes people just consider this part of the regular monthly bills because they are now aware, or maybe disregard, the other cheaper options. If you live in a city that has a wonderful public transport system, you can take the bus or the train when commuting from your home to your workplace. If not, why don’t you consider getting a bicycle? Riding a bicycle is advantageous and it’s like hitting two birds with one stone: you save on gasoline expenses and maintenance is on the low side, and you get your daily exercise. The savings from this cost-cutting measure can be used to pay off a portion of your debt.
It’s a no-brainer that shelter is one of basic needs. But you don’t have to buy one outright. Mortgage payments really put a large dent in your monthly expenses. If you don’t have a family yet, perhaps it’s better to rent a place with a friend, a colleague, or a loved one. Sharing a home with other people also means having other people share payments for utility bills.
Nobody checks the label of your clothes. So why do you have to throw money for designer outfits? You don’t need to buy expensive clothes to make it look like you have expensive clothes on. The way you communicate and carry yourself is more important than expensive clothes. It’s enough that you have clean clothes on and they’re appropriate to the place or event you’re attending. Piece of advice: Avoid clothes that need to be dry cleaned to save on dry-cleaning expenses, which are more expensive than regular laundry services.
Ask yourself, “Is it really important to have cable at home?” Consider cutting your cable subscription. If watching television gives you relaxation, you can opt for local television shows. You may also watch on Youtube and free movie sites during weekends.
Internet has been part of our everyday life. It’s not advisable that you cut your data plan – especially if you’re working from home. But you may be able to find a cheaper plan that will still allow you to use data whenever you can.
Many people get a gym subscription but barely use it. Running or walking is a great form of exercise. So there is actually no need to go to the gym. Most state parks are free of entrance fees and you can go there to enjoy the view and jog at the same time.
Cut down on fine dining expenses. You can save this for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. You can save more money when you just cook a simple meal at home. For some people, cooking is also therapeutic. It’s a fun hobby to do, too. You can make most of the leftovers, which you can reheat and consume for the next meal time. You can also pack lunches to save yourself from buying expensive lunch in the office. Bringing lunch, or home-cooked meal, is also ne way of embracing a healthier lifestyle.
Groceries and Shopping
It’s so easy to overspend while you’re with your shopping cart and some cash or credit card at hand. Make sure to list down the things you really need to buy from the groceries, or department store, and stick to it. You need to control impulsive buying.
Plan your expenses
Take a moment to review your expenses. When you consider buying or renting a house or apartment, you need to consider the neighborhood to save on expenses. Why? Any property, which is surrounded by or in close proximity to commercial establishments, especially high-end ones, is expensive. But if it is in close proximity to your office, then you may be able to save on gas and you may not need to buy a car at all. A bicycle may be sufficient. A place in the suburbs is sure to be less expensive if you have room mates. Make sure to plot the pros and cons and calculate the most practical alternative.
It’s always a great idea to put things into writing every time you plan. Set aside a notebook for all of your financial activities. It is important that you see the list of debts on a paper, so you’ll be aware of them and make timely payments. Use a red marker to write the numbers in big and bold strokes.
You have to make a decision that it is the time to make changes in your spending habits. Once you start paying off your debt and you see a smaller figures, you will experience an emotional effect. You will be inspired to save more and further decrease your debt. There is a sense of accomplishment when you notice that your debt is getting smaller. This is why you need to keep a financial journal.
Aside from your debt, it is also essential to write down your daily expenses. The advantage of this is after a week, you will realize how much of a dent that weekly expense has made on your funds. If you think it’s too big, you can go over your expenses one by one and figure out the things that you can do without. After a month, you can look at your total expense and compare it with your monthly earnings. Hopefully, your actual expense is much lower than your earnings. If you are spending more than what you are earning, then you are not going to pay off your debts anytime soon. Credit cards give people a false sense of financial security
Keep track of billing periods. Late fees are unnecessary so you should avoid them at all costs. Pay debts on time. Lastly, your notebook should also include your proposed budget for the day, the week, and the month. Stick to them as much as possible.
Increase your income
Of course, another way to pay off your debt is to have additional sources of fund. There are a lot of opportunities that will allow you to make extra money that don’t require a lot of time. One example is babysitting. You don’t need to babysit every day and you don’t have to do it eight hours a day. Most babysitting opportunities are from those couples who want to enjoy date night at least once a week. Surely, it won’t be too much to ask of you to look after the children at least five hours in a week. If you still have energy and the drive to earn more, then perhaps you can add an additional day or two of babysitting duties in a week. Craigslist and Facebook are great sources of temporary job opportunities. The former has a lot of odd jobs you didn’t even realize they exist, and some of them are actually the things that you can do. There are also similar online sites that are looking for temporary, part-time, and freelance jobs that can help you earn more.
Another way to earn more money is to sell stuff – old clothes or things that you are no longer using. If you have a creative side, you may also sell art and other crafts. And if you have mastered the art of cooking, which you started in a way to save money from dining out, then this is also a great way to earn money. Read our article on home-based jobs that parents, or even singles, can do at their spare time.
Or you can always do it the old-fashion way: clock in more hours at work through overtime and other extra-curricular work-related activities.
There are two basic tenets that you have to master when you want to pay off your debts: decrease spending and increase income. The only reason why these are hard to implement is because there are too many good things in the world that we feel like we need to have them right away: a new iPhone, a newest pair of Yeezy, or a designer handbag. But just think of it this way that you can buy anything you want when you are debt-free. After all, you can reward yourself after paying off your debts.