Growing up, I saw how my parents and relatives dealt with money. Some were rather responsible, making sure they had savings and investments, the latter being the ones with more disposable income than others. Most, however, seemed to be living in debt.
No matter how big or small, there always seemed to be debt of some kind. Credit cards were not a thing back then, but loans from co-ops, loans from the bank, and similar setups were very common. I promised myself that when I grew up, I would never live in debt.
So much for that promise.
Today, just like many people around the world, I find myself stressing out because of finances. A huge chunk of my earnings go to paying off credit card bills and medical loans.
Drowning in debt
You would think that people in first world countries don’t have debt problems, wouldn’t you? But it’s exactly the opposite. Let’s take, for example, America and Australia. If you look at the two infographics below, you’ll see just how much in debt people are! It makes one fraught…
How to reduce debt
As if having to let go of your earnings to pay debt were not enough, worrying and stressing over the situation adds to the problem. It is common knowledge that stress has negative effects on our mental and physical state, so it is only logical that we take action to reduce stress; and in this context, taking concrete steps to reduce debt is one of the things we can do to reduce stress.
1. Downgrade all subscriptions like cable and extra mobile phone lines. Better yet, get rid of them!
2. Learn to control impulse buying. If you have to, leave your credit card at home when you go out.
3. Always pay with cash whenever you can. If you can’t pay with cash, chances are you can’t afford it anyway.
4. Don’t miss out on payments. Ever. Consider opening an online checking account so that you can set up an automatic bill payment system. Not only will your bills get paid on time, you won’t have to spend any time or energy thinking about them.
5. Pay more than the minimum on your credit cards if you can. Else, you’ll probably just be paying the interest, especially if your debt is a huge amount.
6. Downgrade your lifestyle. Don’t feel bad about it. Just because you don’t go out to dine at least once a week doesn’t mean anything except you’re trying to save money so you can reduce debt.
7. Lessen “guilty pleasures”. These will depend on the person, of course, but for me, these are things like going to the salon every month, getting a massage every week, and so on.
8. Sell things you don’t need, and use the proceeds to reduce debt.
9. Get a side job if you have the time. Virtual workers are in demand these days, so it’s actually easier to earn extra income.
10. Prepare your lunch in the morning, and bring it to work instead of eating out everyday.
These may be little things, but in the end, they add up to reduce debt. In the beginning, you might feel even more stressed because you may feel like you’re depriving yourself. Don’t worry – your mind will adjust itself, and when you see the results of your efforts, your stress will also melt away little by little.
Do you have other concrete tips to reduce debt? Let us know in the comments!
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Originally posted on September 23, 2014 @ 9:00 am