This is a guest post by Amy Nickson. Amy Nickson is a personal finance blogger at workingmomsword.com.
Like many people, I struggled with debt at some point in my life. I have spent sleepless nights figuring out how to pay off debt. But now, I feel happy that the hard work paid off and I managed to become debt-free. However, to get to this point, I needed a debt repayment plan along with practicing a few strategies to save money and alter my lifestyle.
Here are a few tips on how you can crush your financial worry, pay off debt, and manage your financial life like a pro.
Create a budget that you can follow
Creating a realistic budget can help you tremendously on your journey to pay off debt. Don’t worry if you’re not successful on the first go. Create a budget and adjust it along the way if necessary, until you have one that you can follow.
You can also follow budgeting strategies like a 50-20-30 budget and an envelope budget method to get there.
Planning a reasonable budget that works for you doesn’t mean that it’s for a lifetime. You have to modify your budget from time to time, especially with lifestyle changes or with modifications in your financial goals.
Cut back expenses and consider a frugal lifestyle.
Don’t think that a frugal lifestyle means all your enjoyment must disappear; rather, consider it as a tool to help you use your money in alignment with your values.
Therefore, plan a frugal lifestyle and cut back expenses where you can. If you look at your monthly expenses, you can probably find some ways to cut back.
For example, you can reduce subscriptions if you don’t use them much, you can cancel gym memberships for the time being and exercise at your home, and so on. You can automatically use the money saved to more aggressively pay off debt.
Focus on needs instead of wants
If you look at your recent purchases, you might find something you purchased, that you didn’t need.
For the time being, consider focusing on your needs and reducing your wants as much as you can.
It will ultimately help you. How? By doing so, you can save money and use it to become debt-free. Once your debt is paid off, you can use the money towards some of your wants without hampering your budget.
Therefore, it is important to differentiate between your needs and wants clearly. However, you can always keep an allowance in your budget to satisfy a few of your wants too while you pay off debt.
Build an emergency fund
Having an emergency fund can help you avoid debt in many instances. This I have learned from experience. I also used to believe that keeping money in cash or cash equivalents wasn’t the smartest thing to do because the money wasn’t growing. But, you never know when a financial emergency might happen. This is when an emergency fund can help you avoid using your credit cards and eventually fall into even more debt.
Plan for your retirement
You may think that if you’re struggling to pay off the debt; so, how can you save for retirement at the same time? Well, it is important to balance paying off debt and building a good financial future at the same time. Thanks to compound interest the earlier you start investing towards your retirement the better off you will be.
Choose a debt repayment plan
Now, the most important thing, you will have to choose a debt repayment plan that works for you.
First, analyze your financial situation. How much debt can you repay every month? Which debt will you tackle more aggressively? Should you consider debt consolidation to repay your multiple debts? Can you realistically pay off your debt in full with your income? Can you find other ways to bring in additional income?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with debt, consider talking to a fee-only professional who can help you develop a plan to get out of debt. However, irrespective of whether you repay on your own or need professional help, you will have to save a definite amount every month, with which you can repay your debts.
How much are you willing to sacrifice on your journey to pay off debt? Do you have to put your dreams on the back burner until your debt is paid off? Not necessarily. You can pay off debt while pursuing your dreams. But, paying off high-interest rate (7 percent or more) debt as fast as you can, will allow you to pursue your dreams wholeheartedly.
So, plan your debt repayment strategy, crush your financial worry, and start managing your financial life like a pro.