Debts can be devastating – especially if they eat up your monthly income and you end up spending more money on paying back your loans than you have left for the rest of the bills, or for your food or for your clothes. Getting a loan is often the easy part, especially if you have good credit as it seems like lenders are just queuing up to throw money at you. The more credit available to you, often, the easier it is to get into a horrible amount of debt, particularly if you’ve borrowed from a short-term payday loan firm. But although it can feel like an endless cycle that you can’t get out of, it isn’t – you just need to get your head screwed on and get knuckled down. It won’t go away if you bury your head in the sand and you’ll need to put the work in, but it’s definitely possible. You’ve probably heard about all of the success stories, and although many are used for marketing purposes, there are real people with real successes – and you can be one of them.
Find Out What You’re Dealing With
You can’t start dealing with your debt unless you know exactly how much you’re dealing with. Many people pay their credit card bills automatically each month, which means that the minimum payment comes out of your account each month. This amount changes depending on how much debt you’ve paid off, and if you don’t keep an eye on your payments each month it can be really easy to lose track of just how much debt you have. Sit down with all of your statements, including “buy now pay later” accounts and work out exactly how much money you owe. Next, take a look at how much money you spend on paying off those bills each month. How much of your monthly budget goes on paying off those debts? How much money do you have left over? And what are you spending that money on?
Living on a Budget
It’s the most frequently suggested way of paying off debts and freeing up more money to put towards your debts, but it does have less of an impact than you might think. However, it’s definitely worth doing, even if you end up putting those extra dollars towards a college fund or an emergency fund rather than towards your debts. Look at how much money you spend on your electricity bills and gas bills, your cable TV, your smartphone, your cell bill, your Wi-Fi bill, your food, drinks, clothes and any extra money that you use for leisure purposes, like going to the cinema or popping out for a meal. Chances are, you’ll spot numerous places for you to cut back on – visit a few comparison websites to slash money off of your bills and switch to cheaper brands of food at the supermarket. So far, so obvious, right?
Bring in More Money
This is an option only for some – if you can afford to spend the extra time out of the house, or the childcare costs associated with having to go back to work – then adding an extra day or two at work and bringing in extra money will be a huge help in paying off those bills. But of course you should only do extra work if you are able to. If you’re in retail, for example, and working five days a week you could always ask for an additional day each week. Or, grab a weekend job. It’s not worth working 18 hours a day if you can get by on what you’re making at the moment, so don’t push yourself too far – just strike a balance between what you can do and what you need.
It’s very possible that you’ll qualify for financial aid if you decide to study. There are literally thousands of night schools that offer degrees in everything from psychology to art history and if you qualify for financial aid, studying can mean that you end up with a better job – and a better salary. With that better salary, you’ll be able to pay off your debts more quickly. If you’re in a position that can attract a higher salary if you’re more qualified, this is definitely an option worth considering. For example, if you’re a classroom assistant, you could study for a degree in education and qualify as a teacher, which will pay a much higher salary.
Pay Off Smaller Debts
If you’ve got lots of debts, it’s really important that you prioritize – figure out which debts need to be paid off first in order to maximize the amount of money that you’re paying out each month. The debts you should be concentrating on are those that have the highest interest rates, but it’s also a good idea to pay off the smallest debts first – get them out of the way and then that’s one less thing to worry about! Clearing that small debt means that you can put the money that you were using to pay off that debt towards the larger debts that you have with higher interest rates. The fewer debts you have, the better, after all.
If you qualify, balance transfers are a fantastic way to reduce your debt. Transfer all of your debt to a 0% interest card. Provided you pay off the debt within the 0% time period, you’ll be able to get away with paying off your debt with no interest on top – and chances are, at the moment, you’re spending anywhere between 30-40% of your total debt in interest payments. Without that 30%, you’re freeing up a lot more money in your pocket.