Dealing with debt can be overwhelming. Not only can it significantly impact your quality of life, but it can be also be mentally and emotionally taxing.
While some people turn to debt to purchase a home or invest in a business, others accrue debt due to unexpected medical bills. Most debt, however, comes from unnecessary purchases on credit cards. All too often, it boils down to lacking financial discipline and poor financial planning.
Developing a financial strategy and learning how to manage your debts are the first steps toward regaining your financial health. While it may not seem easy in the beginning, it is important to remain persistent because letting your debt snowball can have long lasting negative impacts on your overall financial health.
Here are some practical tips you can work on – and hopefully turn into habits – so you can become debt-free quickly.
1. Set Up an Emergency Savings Fund
Emergencies can happen at any time, making it important to plan ahead in order to stay debt-free. To start your own emergency savings fund, set aside enough money for unexpected expenses such as an illness or an urgent car repair. It is also a good idea to have an emergency fund set aside that you can use in case you are unable to work for a period of time. By doing this, you can avoid incurring new debt to handle emergency situations.
2. Create a Budget Plan – and Be Sure to Stick to It
Splurging on things may give you a temporary sense of fulfillment, but after this excitement fades, what’s next? Living within your means is the best way you can stay debt-free. Develop a budget that prioritizes your basic needs such as food, housing expenses, utility bills, and other essentials. Having a budget will not only give you a better snapshot of your current finances, but it also allows you to track where your hard-earned money goes. Lastly, be sure to follow through by sticking to the budget you created.
3. Pay Off Outstanding Balances & Prioritize your High-Interest Debts
If you have an existing loan such as a personal loan or student loan, be sure you make repaying it your top priority. One way to do this is by looking into alternative payment options that can help you manage your debts more effectively without derailing your budget or causing you to incur more debt. Also, be sure to take into account those outstanding balances with higher interest rates that will end up costing you more if they’re not paid back quickly. If you wish, you can talk to a credit counselor or consider debt consolidation to deal with your debts faster and with the most favorable terms possible.
4. Resist the Urge to Spend Impulsively
Do everything you can to stay within your budget limits. Consider whether the purchases you make are really necessary. Cut out excessive spending on things like designer items, grand vacations, and costly hobbies or activities that can seriously hurt your budget. Put simply, don’t take on any unnecessary debt that you’ll regret later on.