Eliminate Debt & Money Worries With These Savvy Budgeting Tips
Are you being kept awake at night worrying about your finances? Have you attempted to manage your spending but find yourself slipping back into old habits? Is debt creeping into your life and impacting your wellbeing? If this is resonating with you then I’m here to offer some simple tips to rethink your spending plan and take control of your finances. In this post, I will discuss the relationship between money and wellbeing – a subject seldom discussed in debt management, despite the fact that debt can have huge impacts on our health. I will then offer my tips to support you to approach your debt and also take care of your wellbeing alongside this. I hope this post will enable you to take some steps to face your finances head on and start your journey to become debt-free.
Money, Health & Wellbeing: What Is Debt Really Doing To Us?
The relationship between money, health and wellbeing is an under explored topic that really should be given some attention. We often separate money from wellbeing because we see money as a tool – it’s something we use to manage our daily lives, to exchange for goods and services we want or need and that we understand through mathematical sums. Doesn’t sound very linked to our wellbeing right?! And yet, many of us deal with financial fear on a daily basis through our everyday uses of debt, credit or mismanagement of our incoming money versus our outgoing spending. So what does this tell us? Money is hugely linked to our psychology by which I mean our behaviour and our emotions. Morgan Housel’s book, The Psychology of Money tells us just that: ‘Doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behaviour is hard to teach, even to really smart people’. Our everyday money decisions are often not made by consulting a spreadsheet but are influenced much more by how we are feeling and unconscious behaviours. It’s also worth nothing that getting into debt is not always about chasing a lavish lifestyle, debt can start to build from unexpectedly losing your job, experiencing a bereavement, being diagnosed with a mental illness and/or physical health challenges. It could also be affording necessities in life like rent, childcare and topping up our food shop. For whatever reason someone finds themselves in debt, without a plan, it can lead to an intense and/or consistent feelings of anxiety, poor sleep, lead to low mood and have a negative impact on our relationships. Therefore, money troubles and being in debt can have huge impacts on our mental health and wellbeing. The good news is that even taking small steps to address our debt can hugely relieve these health impacts so let’s dive in to some practical tips to get you started.
Top Tips for Eliminating Debt
Work out the Numbers and Make Some Savvy Moves
Step one is facing your debt head on and working out all of the numbers. If your debt is spread across multiple credit cards, loans etc make sure you map each one out taking into account the bank/company, the balance and also incurring charges, fees and interest rates. Once we have the numbers, we need to capture them visually in a way that works for us. This could be written down on a large piece of paper and displayed, in a notebook or on an excel spreadsheet. Find a way that works best for you and leave some space to track your weekly/monthly progress. However the numbers make us feel, remember this is the start of your journey and from here they will only be going down!
Next onto our savvy moves, first thing we are going to do is call the bank/lenders that our debt is with and ask them what support they can offer. This could be an offer of freezing or refunding interest, fees or charges up to 12 months’ worth. This might feel like a scary conversation so I encourage you to write some notes and be clear on what you want out of it. If the person you are speaking to isn’t making any offers or doesn’t seem to understand what you are asking, politely ask to be transferred to someone else or to the manager. Although this phone call may feel tricky, it could have huge pay offs for reducing your debt down. My second savvy move to get you started in considering whether it makes sense to apply for a balance transfer credit card. This will move your credit card balance to a 0% interest card meaning you won’t pay any interest for up to 32 months so you can focus on really making a dent on the total.
Time to Start Paying Down that Debt: Budgets & Side Hustles
Now we know our numbers and we’ve taken some savvy moves to get ourselves in the best position with our debt, it’s time to start attacking those totals as much as possible! The best ways to do that is through a budget and with additional income from side hustles. Let’s start with our budget, firstly we need to work out all of our expenses, these are things like rent, bills, phone contract etc. Once you’ve listed your expenses, have a look at what you have left and assign a realistic amount to your debt. You may also want to add some money to an emergency fund (for unexpected events) and also create some pots for Christmas, birthdays etc so these don’t unexpectedly impact on your debt freedom journey. Remember the more you can put towards your debt each month by making daily sacrifices, the faster your journey to freedom will be. Something I found really useful was breaking my budget down by week as well as month. Look through your weekly calendar and mark out any days you are likely to spend giving yourself a budget to aim for. On days that you don’t have plans, challenge yourself to make these no spend and tick them off when you do. It will feel amazing to see those ticks add up while your debt total goes down.
Next up is working on a side hustle, this will really support you to get out of debt faster. You can do this in a few different ways, if your employer allows, you may want to focus on working overtime or extra shifts in your current role. Or perhaps you could take on a second job with a few extra hours a week or that takes place on the weekend. If this level of responsibility won’t fit your lifestyle, you can try some side hustles such as selling unwanted items of eBay/vinted, paid surveys, dog/pet sitting, renting out your driveway or car, blogging, mystery shopping etc. There are lots of ways to make money online, have a google and find a strategy that works to your skillset and time available. Use all of the money made from your side hustle on your debt to fully feel the benefit.
Find low cost ways to rebuild your health and wellbeing
This was such a great idea I found on debtconsolidation.com in their article on debt management which encourages readers to ‘take care of yourself first’ by finding ‘low-cost ways to exercise, socialize and relax’. As much as we are focusing on paying that debt down, we also need to take time to ourselves to improve our wellbeing and also enjoy life. This will enable us to combat the negative health impacts from being in debt. We can make simple swaps in our lives that will enable us to feel connected to ourselves and in our relationships whilst also supporting our debt freedom goals. This might be swapping expensive meals out for walks in the park, catching up with a friend over a coffee at home or making a budget friendly dinner that the family enjoys together at the table. There are also loads of tools on YouTube now from fitness classes to guided meditation to crafting tutorials to support you to get some relaxation time and focus on your mental health. There are so many fantastic ways to approach this and lots more great tips in the article, click here to learn more.
Getting out of debt is not an easy task, it can feel like a long slog and maybe at points you’ll think about giving up. Make sure that you keep tracking your journey and laying out the numbers in front of you as I promise this will be your biggest motivator. Seeing the numbers go down and feeling your freedom get closer is truly indescribable. Once you achieve a debt free life, it is like a huge weight being lifted off your shoulders, an ability to move and breath a little easier. Later in your journey, start to map out your long term goals for when you are debt free perhaps this is to start building your savings, to buy a house, to start investing, to change careers or work towards an early retirement. You will be able to apply the money habits, disciplines, psychological and emotional lessons of debt management to these new goals and see them manifest. I wish you the best of luck with your journeys to lives of freedom!