Today I have thirteen money hacks to get you out of financial trouble and live debt-free.
On any journey, you need a beginning, a goal, and a means to get you there. Without those key milestones, it’s hard to find your way.
In my post today, I help you decide where your beginning is, what goals you should aim for and give you some practical tips for getting yourself there.
Figure out where you are now
Before you can start on your journey, you need to know where you are now. It might be an excruciating task, but if you don’t know how good or bad your situation actually is, it’s hard to figure out the best solution.
Go through all your credit cards, loans, bank accounts and mortgage accounts and work out exactly how much money you have, negative or positive.
Write it all down into a spreadsheet. Google Sheets is a brilliant free tool, and you can access it anywhere and on any device.
Decide on your goal
This post is about getting out of financial trouble and living debt-free, so I’m guessing you arrived here because you’re in a little bit (or a lot) of trouble and you need to figure out a strategy for getting you out.
You might also be here because you want to pay your mortgage off earlier and live debt-free for the rest of your days.
If you have credit card debt problems, then it would make sense to set an initial goal of paying them off first before you think about paying down your mortgage.
Whatever your goal is. Write it down, and if it is enormous, write down some smaller interim goals to keep you motivated.
Always Pay off your worst debts first
Got all your debt written down? Now order that debt from the worst to the best.
The worst debt is going to be something like a credit card balance, or loan with the highest interest rate.
The best debt might be your mortgage if you have one.
You now have the order in which you will pay off your debt from the worst to the best.
Make a budget
Having a budget that works for you is the key to becoming debt-free. You can use your budget to pay off debt or to save money once that debt is paid off.
In my post below, I give you a straightforward method for creating your own budget, and you can download the spreadsheet in the post below to start you off in no time.
Don’t try to keep up with the neighbours
If this is the habit that got you into debt in the first place, you need to stop it right now!
Here is what you should be doing instead:
- Always buy used cars. Let someone else pay the premium for a brand new car.
- Is your house too big? Sell it and buy a smaller one.
Having the flashiest car in the street and the biggest house in the neighbourhood is not going to get you out of financial trouble.
The moment you drive a new car away from the garage, it loses money, and if you had to get a loan to buy it, you lose even more.
The wealthiest people in the world often don’t flaunt their wealth. Warren Buffet, who is worth an estimated $87 billion still lives in the modest house he bought in 1958. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg drives a stick-shift Volkswagen GTI.
Selling your house is a significant shift, but if it isn’t serving you any longer, you need to sell it.
Always buy second-hand
I’ve already mentioned that you should never by a new car.
But this rules applies to lots of other things too including kitchen appliances, furniture, electrical goods.
Even better, get it for nothing. Try your local freecycle. We recently acquired a free dining room table. All I did was post a message on a forum, someone answered, and in a few days, we had a new table for our dining room!
Always buy as much as you can second hand.
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Never buy a phone contract
By all means shop around for a contract on a new phone, then look for a similar phone on eBay.
I paid about £300 for my second-hand iPhone. I calculated that over 36 months it would cost me approx £16 p/m including £8 per month for a pay and go SIM. This is far cheaper than taking out a contract for the latest iPhone.
Use credit cards the right way
If you feel you can’t trust yourself any longer with a credit card, I give you full permission not to use them!
If you are going to keep your credit card, you must use it in the right way. By this, I mean treating spending on the card as if it were yours. If you don’t have the money yourself, then don’t spend.
Pay off the whole balance at the end of the month. If you think you might forget to pay, set up an automatic direct debit from your bank account.
Overpay your mortgage a little each month
If you are at the stage in your debt-free journey where you have paid off the worst debt, the next thing to tackle is mortgage debt.
If your budget allows, why not set up a direct debit to overpay a little each month?
In most cases overpaying can lead to much less interest, but to be safe, check with your mortgage company in case there are penalties for overpaying.
Learn how to fix things
If you can do your own decorating, fix a washing machine, fit a kitchen, or plumb in a new bathroom, the savings are enormous.
Mostly it is a case of having the confidence to tackle these types of jobs. Youtube is fantastic for learning new skills.
You can probably do some decorating at least, why not try that first?
Never buy insurance you don’t need
Only ever buy insurance that you are obligated to purchase, such as car, home, and life insurance.
If you have your kitchen appliances insured you need to cancel right now. If you are worried about big bills for replacements, put the money you save each month into a separate account.
Ask for a raise
The great thing about having a budget is that you can use it to figure out how much money you need to reach your goals. Maybe your budget is saying you need to earn more money? Use it as your motivator.
Consider asking for a raise. What’s the worst that can happen, your boss says no?
Before you ask, do your research. Find out how much you could earn elsewhere, then add on some extra because you are more valuable to your company than someone who comes in fresh. Also, figure out how much you think your company gains from having you.
Start a side-hustle
There is no need to leave your job if you don’t want to for the sake of more money. Why not look into making some side money?
When you get out of financial trouble and live debt-free, you can then start to save money instead. Use your budget to save money into an account each month. A direct debit is best because you can forget about it. If you are using a separate account for your savings, make sure it has the best possible interest rate.