Tuesday, January 18, 2022

14 Hacks To Reduce Debt and Avoid New Debt

Debt. It's a four-letter word that we all want to avoid, for the most part. 

I say for the most part because there is both good debt and bad debt. Your home mortgage, for example, would be considered good debt as it will generate income and build your net worth as it increases in value.

Unfortunately, debt becomes a reality for many of us at some point in our lives. A recent report showed that nearly 80% of Americans are in debt. And, it's not really a surprise considering the cost of living these days. However,  there are many ways to reduce existing debt and also avoid incurring new debt. Let's explore some of the tips and kick debt to the curb!

7 Tips to Reduce Debt:

To begin, make a list of all of your debts, income, and expenses. Now you are ready to take charge and tackle your debt.

1. Consolidate debt- speak to a financial advisor and create a plan together to pay off your existing debt. One of my favourite tips is to use or open a low-interest credit line or low-interest credit card that can be used to pay off higher interest credit cards and loans. They will be consolidated into one low-interest account so you'll only need to make that one monthly payment. Talk about simplified.

2. Pay off higher interest credit cards and loans first. And, always make sure you're paying more than just the interest every month, otherwise, you won't be paying off the debt (principal), just the interest.

3. Make weekly or bi-weekly payments vs. monthly.  You'll be surprised at how much more quickly you'll pay off those debts. I did this with my mortgage and my home will be paid off much earlier than if I made monthly payments.

4. Increase income: ask for that long-overdue raise, or get a second job or side hustle. Even something as small as a weekly paper route can help. 

5. Declutter: this trend has become hugely popular for quite some time and is still going strong. Declutter your home by getting rid of things that you no longer need, use, or love. Then sell them on apps like Facebook marketplace, Kijiji, Poshmark, eBay and more! I've had great success at reducing my debt this way!

6. Only purchase necessities. Keep a list of what you need and know what you have. Tip #5 will help you know exactly what you have and avoid unnecessary spending.

7. Set up a separate savings account, and have a specified portion of your paycheck go automatically into this account on payday. This way you won't even feel it and you can use these funds to pay down your debt.

Learn more about getting out of debt here.

7 Tips to Avoid New Debt:

1. Cancel credit cards and lines of credit once they are paid off. Keep one for emergencies only. Or use one low-interest credit card for all purchases which can actually help some people keep track of their spending. If having a credit card makes you spend more than you normally would, just steer clear.

2. Use cash. I find that when I use cash, I feel what I'm spending much more than when I'm just tapping or handing over my credit card.

3. Make a budget and stick with it. Live within your means. Check out free online budget planners to help with this task.

4. Walk away from impulse purchases. This works for online shopping as well. Walk away from the item or computer, phone, etc. Go do something else. If you're still thinking about it in a day or two, decide if you really need it or not. Another simple trick that I use if I really want something but know I don't really need it, is to read all the bad (1 star) reviews on the items, which usually works for me. 😄

5. Reevaluate your bills, lower and eliminate what you can. With just a phone call, you can often receive reductions to many of your bills, including your cell phone bill, home and /or car insurance, cable bill etc. How many streaming services do you have? Are you using them? Cancel what you don't use or need. 

6. Emergency fund /savings- Put 10% of your income aside, this way, you’ll be prepared for any unexpected expenses.

7. Payoff bills in full at the end of the month- Once you've paid off your debt and now have a realistic budget in place, you should be able to avoid going into debt again by paying off your monthly bills in full each month.

Remember that "A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned"- this old expression couldn't be more true! Think about other ways you can save, like trading in that gas-guzzling vehicle for one that's cheaper on gas, joining free reward memberships like Airmiles, using coupons, shopping at dollar stores, going thrifting, finding deals at online marketplaces like Facebook (I recently purchased a name brand GPS in like-new condition for $20 and there was no tax because it was a private sale), shop garage and estate sales, entertain and exercise at home, have fun and experiment making your specialty coffees at home. Get creative and have fun while finding new ways to save your hard-earned money.

Debt not only affects your credit score, but can also affect your relationships, self-esteem, and can cause enormous stress. Once you are debt-free, you will feel so liberated and free and have less stress.

I hope you found my list of tips helpful. I know that they've helped me so much over the years and I hope they will help you too.

Learn more about how to stay out of debt.

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