Working Towards Becoming Debt Free
Getting Debt Free and Staying Debt Free
The average household credit card debt is close to $9,000! Once credit card debt begins, it can be a difficult struggle to crawl out from under all the debt and become debt free once again. Of course, staying out of debt, to begin with, is the number ONE way to be “out of debt”. Although, sometimes, having debt is inevitable. For example, my husband and I had VERY little debt but after 80 something days of me being in the hospital in 2016, that has changed. Debt can be extremely stressful. Believe me, there are times I wish someone would just hand us a bunch of money to pay all these doctor bills off but I know that won’t be happening! Ha! Here are some things that we have done in the past that worked and that we had to begin again to dig out of debt once again!
Make a Budget
Creating a budget needs to be the very first thing you do. Look at all of your bills… ouch… I know that can be a painful thing to do but it IS needed! Make sure you are realistic. Making a budget that isn’t realistic is pointless. Take an average of your last six months. For example, your electric may cost you less in the fall than it does in the winter. Figure your average and set aside the difference each month of the fall for the winter months when you may have a higher bill.
There are many online budgeting forms you can fill out such as the one HERE. Or, you can go with the old fashion way of just writing down all of your typical expenses and doing a handwritten budget. I would suggest finding at least a sample like THIS to go by so you do not forget any expenses that need to be in your budget!
Do Not Make Unnecessary Purchases
The rule of thumb should be, think before you buy. Never buy on impulse.
- Staying clear of home sales parties is a big one, especially for us women! It is hard not to buy on impulse when you attend a party at a friend’s house. Everyone else is buying, right?! So, why not buy?? Most of the time, those parties do not sell NEEDED products. If you are in debt, spending money on WANTS over NEEDS will keep you spiraling down further and further into debt.
- Stay away from malls and department stores
- Make a list when grocery shopping and stick to it
- Take advantage of stores that allow you to order online for free and pick up from the front of the store! The less time inside a store, the better!
- Before purchasing anything, do research. Decide if it is something you could live without. If you really do need it, find a deal on something used or by checking places such as Groupon or sales papers.
Get the Debt Snowball Rolling
Make a list of all debt that can be paid off. For us, almost all of our debt is medical related. I made a list of all of the bills then put them in order by lowest to highest balance. You still need to make the minimum payment on all bills but with any leftover money, tackle the smallest bill first. That is one less “monthly payment” you will need to make! Use the money you were paying on the bills that you were able to pay off to apply to the next smallest bill.
Stay Focused and Motivated
The hardest part of getting debt free is staying focused. It doesn’t take much to get off track, so, continuing the focus is a key part of this thing!
Go to a Cash System
When it comes to food and gas, extra money is often spent because of the dollar to two dollar items that seem to scream “PICK ME! PICK ME!” right next to the register. When getting out of debt, literally EVERY dollar counts! Put your gas and grocery money in an envelope. Fill your vehicle with as much gas as you need to get you to all the necessary locations for the week.
After making a menu that fits your budget, make a detailed grocery list. Stick to the list! Any cash leftover should be set aside for needs that may come later in the week!
Getting out from under debt can be difficult and discouraging at times. A transmission going on in a car unexpectedly, a broken washing machine, or a trip to the ER can bring you right back to feeling as if your efforts were wasted. They are never wasted! When you see one less bill, once less balance, and a little more money in the bank you will then stand a little taller knowing that you DID IT! Take pride in your efforts! You made a plan, YOU stuck with it, and YOU saw the benefits! That will be something to be proud of for sure! YOU CAN DO IT!
If you find yourself unable to make ends meet with the unexpected situations, seek help!