The absolute best and indisputable way to live a debt free life is to not go into debt in the first place!
Ok so that’s not much of a tip and that’s not what really happens in today’s society. As we grow up we can’t wait until some company actually gives us a credit card. Well, that was my story. I couldn’t wait to have some company give me the power to purchase on credit. It must mean that they believe in me! In my ability to succeed and in my ability to pay back that debt. We have reached adulthood at this point! Right?
Wrong. The credit card companies give us credit cards in the hopes that we don’t pay it back, that we always carry a balance forcing us to continually pay interest charges. Of course there are ways to benefit by having a credit card as long as you pay off the entire balance every single month. Find yourself a great rewards card and you could find some perks to having a credit card. But most people never get to see those perks as they continually go further into debt.
So how do you get out of debt if you’re already swimming in it? A lot of the time the amount of debt people have accumulated surpasses the amount of money they make in an entire year! So the task of paying all back is daunting. Where do you even start?
Make a budget. Stick to that budget. Even when you have to miss out on a night out with the girls or you miss the big game with the boys. Maybe you won’t be able to buy that new sofa or that fancy single cup coffee machine with its overpriced refills. Forget all that you’ll be missing out on in the short term of paying back your debt. Spending 20, 30 or even 40 years paying back debt will have you missing far more in life than not having that bejeweled jean jacket you so badly wanted!
Highest interest first. Start paying back your highest interest debt first. Take this tip with a grain of salt. Some people disagree with this, but it worked for me. Usually department store style credit cards carry the highest interest payments, somewhere in the ball park of 29.9% interest! I’d recommend paying those cards off first. Once you’ve paid that off, take the money that you were paying it off with and apply it to your next highest interest debt. For example: You’re paying $60/month on Card A and $40/month on Card B. Once you pay off the entire balance of Card A which gives you and extra $60/month. You apply that to your payment on Card B and bumps that debt repayment up to $100/month on Card B. Once you pay off the balance on Card B you then take the $100 you were paying and apply it to the next highest interest debt. You continue this process until you’re debt free. This actually speeds up the debt repayment process and will have you debt free faster.
Take a second job. It really sucks to take a 2nd job when you are already working a full time job. I know there are lots of parents and single parents out there who will say that this isn’t an option. Maybe for you it’s really not an option. So I’m directing this tip to all those childless people out there who have the ability to work more. If you can…you should. For a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gives you more money. Secondly, you won’t have time to spend the extra money because you’ll be too busy working. In the short term, it really is a useful option. No job is below you when debt is above you.
Buy used items more often. You can save a lot of money if you buy used items. We live in a society where you can buy nearly new items in perfect condition at thrift stores and through online websites like Craigslist and Kijiji. These stores and websites are highly worth your time. Buy less and buy smart. Your worth is not defined by the amount you paid. It’s defined by the amount you save.
Buy less stuff. Many people have said this in many other articles, but for such a simple concept it seems really hard for people to grasp. So I’ll say it again, buy less stuff! You don’t need a pair of shoes to go with every single outfit you own, nor do you need a watch for all your outfits. Or whatever it is you keep buying more of, you don’t need it. You don’t need a shiny new cellphone every time a new version is released either. If you want more money, buy less stuff.
Sell stuff you don’t use. Instead of hoarding things away because you certainly can’t part with them but you never use them and actually forgot you still have them. Why not sell them? Selling the stuff you don’t need or don’t use is a great way to pay off a little extra on your debt. Another option is that if you have something valuable that you use, think about if you are able to sell it and then find something similar but cheaper that will do the same job? Do you need that $500 juicer, or can you sell it for $300 and then buy a cheaper brand name for $100?
Live in a smaller space. This is a tough one for most people. Especially if you trade in your current place for something smaller when you really don’t want to. It always seems to make people embarrassed to “downgrade” their space. What will your friends think! Gasp! Your friends probably don’t care because they’re too busy worrying about their own problems. And if they do throw you a pity party, you have the wrong friends. Smaller spaces can be cozy and intimate and it certainly doesn’t make you less of a person by living in a smaller space.
Live closer to work. This doesn’t work for everyone but if it does, I highly recommend it. Living closer to work for most people means higher housing costs. But the tradeoff is that you’re not spending hours in traffic, you’re not spending as much in gas or vehicle maintenance or even public transit. Sometimes, living closer to work means that you can get rid of your vehicle all together or at least not use to for work. The benefits of bicycling or walking to work go far beyond the money you’ll save. Who wouldn’t like to be healthier and fit?
Work as a team. This is for the couples out there. There are times when splitting the cost of things 50/50 works really well and other times when it really causes one person to go more in debt trying to “keep up”. The topic of money should not be so taboo. You probably don’t need to fully disclose your financial situation to someone you’re just getting to know, but I wholeheartedly believe that you should always be able to say “I can’t afford to do this”. Instead of going out to eat all the time, make a date to the grocery store where you can both go and pick out ingredients and go home and make a meal. It’s cheaper and it’s a better way to spend quality time together.
There are many other tips for spending less money and becoming debt free. Watch movies at home, take a lunch to work, learn to collect coupons, buy cheaper brands and grow a garden. The list goes on and on. There are thousands of articles to be found on the topic of money and debt. As are there many ways to find yourself debt free. There’s not a “one size fits all” formula. Everyone is different and every situation of debt is different. At the end of the day, whatever solution you find to making yourself debt free is a great solution!
What are you tips on becoming debt free? I’d love to hear about your ideas in the comments below.
Jill is the founder, writer, photographer and travel agent at Chasing Adventure Travel. An adventure travel blog that has morphed into a travel agency, specializing in Active and Adventurous Travels.
Jill has traveled worldwide and spent almost 2 years traveling continuously with her husband. She has traveled to resorts, crossed an ocean on a cruise ship, motorcycled multiple times around Europe and experienced self-guided long term travel.
~ Dreamer, doer and energetic go-getter. Curiosity has inspired adventurous world travel. Imagination is everything ~
*Chasing Adventure Travel is in affiliation with Nexion Canada.
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