If you are a family that is in debt and feel that you are constantly sinking deeper into a financial hole. I just want to encourage you for a moment, there is hope, there is always hope.
We are a family of 6 and there have been times in the past when we didn’t think we would be able to afford food come the next day but somehow we have always managed.
Managing is ok if that is what you are comfortable with but surely there has to be more to life than just living paycheck to paycheck and managing.
We have lived on one income for almost 12 years now and it has been tough.
We never imagined for a moment that life would be like this and had always hoped for debt-free living.
When my third child was one we began thinking about moving to another country and trying to start life again. Not just because of finance but because we wanted our children to not always just see us make ends meet each month.
We wanted to open their minds up to possibilities that we didn’t have access to at their ages.
It got me thinking about debt, how we managed to get into debt so deep and how we could get out of debt.
We needed to have an honest conversation and think about what we needed to do to finally have the debt free lifestyle that we always wanted
I started to think about all the people that we knew that were fortunate enough to experience debt free living and what type of things they did that were different to what I was doing.
It was a hard task to be this honest, but this is what I discovered they were doing that I wasn’t.
This is what sets apart those that are financially free and those of us that are bound by debt.
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8 Tips for debt free living
1. They have a budget that they STICK to
Yes, it’s boring to create a budget but it’s necessary because without a budget you can’t see where you are falling short each month.
If you are in debt then the likelihood is because of one of the following 2 things:
1. You are consistently overspending
2. Your paycheck does not meet your financial needs
Having a budget will show you where your areas of weakness are so that you can begin thinking about ways to improve your financial situation.
You can get a free copy of my budget planner worksheet at the bottom of this page so you can begin planning your finances better.
2. Saving is normal
This might sound strange but it’s so important to save. If you truly want debt free living then saving must become normal to you.
For the longest time, we didn’t save any money, partly because we felt that we weren’t in a financial position to be able to do so but also because we just weren’t used to it.
Saving actually felt like a punishment.
In order to save money, you have to have a positive attitude towards it.
You must habitually, purposefully do it otherwise you won’t do it at all. Believe me, I’ve been there.
In the past, the only time I have successfully managed to save was when there was something that I really wanted and my goal was to reach it.
Like the time we needed a bigger house or the time we needed a second car.
Set yourself saving goals, long term ones as well as short term goals. This will make it so much easier for you to save up your money.
3. They have set financial goals
This blends nicely in with my last point.
Having financial goals will keep you focused on the prize and you will be more inclined to stick with them.
Have a long term goal that you would like to achieve such as saving for a deposit towards a new house or going to Disney land as a family.
Break this goal down into smaller goals and each month set yourself the task of saving towards that bigger goal.
For example to get to Disney land in 6 months time you need to have saved up $200 by the end of the first month to pay for your train tickets.
Make each goal a fun marker if you can. Don’t just make it save $200 by the end of the first month. There’s no reward in that, therefore, no real motivation to keep going.
4. They are forever focused
This is a big one that I noticed among my friends that are debt free living. They always have razor sharp focus.
No matter how many times you tell them they can’t achieve something they will not be shaken, they continue on their path.
I have a friend who was in so much debt and she set herself a task of achieving passive income f $10,000 per month in the next 18 months.
It sounded crazy at the time, like how was that REALLY going to happen?!!
She did it.
She is now highly successful and encourages others to do the same thing.
One thing I have learned is that just because someone else fails at something does not mean that I will too. We are not the same person.
Someones else’s failure is not equal to my own success or failure.
Your debt, no matter how you got it does not define who you are or can be.
5. They have an emergency fund
An emergency fund might seem very similar to saving but they are in fact different.
An emergency fund is there to save you when you need saving.
If your car breaks down in the middle of the month, are you going to go overdrawn in order to fix it?
An emergency fund is for things such as this, so that you don’t have to ruin your monthly budget and end up further into debt.
If you have a really good emergency fund it should be continuously going up and down.
As you use it you fill it again the next month. Your emergency fund is your safety net so that you don’t have to borrow money and use credit cards unnecessarily.
6. All unnecessary spending habits have been curbed
We all have them, things that we overspend on that we don’t really need.
It could be that expensive gym membership that you only use once a month or the number of nights that you eat out during the week. It could even be your extravagant grocery expenses.
If you are overspending on groceries then perhaps you need to start thinking about a meal planner to help reduce your costs.
They are so helpful in getting you to plan out what you actually need to purchase at the store that you end up saving on food.
You can take a look at Platejoy here and try it free for 10 days.
7. Have a plan
It’s so important to have a plan to clear your debts.
You must clear your debts first before you can even think about trying to save.
Debts usually carry high amounts of interest whereas savings accounts don’t usually have high interest attached to them unless they are special savings plans.
Plan what you are going to do to clear your debts, don’t just leave them to sit there and clear the minimum each month. Talk to someone about them.
Debt consolidation might be a better option for you if you have many debts in different places.
Most companies actually want to help you clear your debt so that they can get their money back.
There is no company out there that wants you to fail at paying back your debt so its always worth giving them a call to see what you can do.
You might be able to perhaps either defer payment for a period of time or make payments that will be more favorable to you.
Just make sure to keep track of your payments and don’t just let them sit there, growing.
If you want to succeed at anything then teamwork is the way to go.
That might be in the form of your husband or wife, your partner or an accountability partner.
If your partner is not on the same page as you it could get tricky trying to save and clear debts but if you work together you can keep each other strong and before you realize it you will be debt free living too.
Final thoughts on debt free living
There is no debt that is too far gone that you can not start again.
It might not be in the way that you had hoped for there is always a way to come out of debt and even improve your credit score.
That might be in the form or a new higher paying job, a second job, better financial planning or debt consolidation.
Whichever it is, the most important thing here is that you do your best to turn around your financial situation so you too can be debt free.
- The money envelope system and how it can help you
- Good money habits that can improve your families lifestyle