How many times have you decided that you were going to get your finances organized?
We generally think about how we handle money when we go through a financial setback or are about to make a major purchase. What if you changed the way you interacted with money, not out of desperation but because it was a priority?
Waiting until you have a need for a good credit score or substantial savings is like working backward. The goal is to prepare yourself so that unexpected expenses or opportunities, don’t turn into financial emergencies. We generally think about improving how we interact with money in 3 steps: saving, budgeting, and paying down debt. While the first two mean a change in behavior and creating new habits, with consistency they can be mastered. Getting out of debt, or developing a debt-free lifestyle can take a bit more effort.
Debt for most is a safety net of sorts. When you can’t make ends meet or have a financial crisis, it’s the go-to solution. Once it spirals out of control, it becomes a pay-the-minimum and deal with it later situation. The problem with this thinking is that until you develop a plan to eliminate debt, it doesn’t go away.
Before you go another day, without a plan of action, it’s time to get busy getting your money in order. These five steps will help you get on track and pay down debt now!
Believe it or not, the most important step in debt elimination is changing how you think about credit and debt. If you see debt as necessary to your budget or lifestyle, you won’t have the sense of urgency needed to begin making changes. One of the best ways to motivate yourself to an elevated financial mindset is through reading. Sounds simple, right? It is actually. As you process information about a goal you’re looking to achieve, your mindset, your will, and your actions start to align your current situation with your end goal. Think of it as reinforcement. You are constantly receiving information that fortifies your decision to be debt free.
Without a road map, you’re just wandering around. Think of your budget as your navigation system – it tells you exactly where your money should be allocated each month. Without a proper understanding of what income, you have coming in versus expenses that are going out, you won’t have a strong foundation to create a debt free strategy. With all of the apps out there that help with saving, investing and banking… actually developing a solid budget may seem like a thing of the past, but it may be exactly what you need to get your finances in order.
Tip: As you’re developing your budget, don’t forget to allocate monies for saving and debt reduction.
We all like small wins that lead to the ultimate goal. Snowballing debt is how you put this theory to work within your debt elimination plan. When you snowball debt, you determine a set amount of money that you plan to allocate towards debt repayment and reduction each month. You then list out all of your debts from smallest to largest, including the minimum payment due on each.
Each month you pay the minimum balance for all accounts and allocated any additional money left from the total amount that you allocated for debt elimination and pay it to the smallest account – until that debt is paid in full. You will continue to do the same each month until all of your debts are paid in full. Along the way, your payments will increase as the allocated amount stays the same, despite fewer accounts to pay towards.
Now that you have the knowledge, it time to put it to action. When you understand and take control of your debt you empower yourself to achieve financial freedom!