Let’s face it, the reason you’re in debt is partly due to some bad habits. To simplify it even more, you spend or have spent more than your income which has left you in this stressful position.
I can give you all the tips and strategies in the world to get a handle on your debt, but if you hold onto those old spending habits, you will never be able to change your situation. Consumer debt is the main one we will focus on today because consumer debt is the one that is most influenced by habits. Your student loans are probably done and over with and now you must deal with the consequences of your school finance choices. (Student loans will be discussed in another post)
Without further ado, here are some habits to develop in order to keep you from going further into consumer debt.
1. Do A Monthly Budget
I know you may be sick and tired of reading about budgets, but I can’t help it. A budget really is the first main key to getting and staying out of debt. A budget gives you a game plan at the beginning of the month for where your money will go, and how much you are allowed to spend on discretionary items. As you know, developed habits get easier over time and the same applies to a budget habit. The first couple of months will be tiresome… but I PROMISE, if you keep with it, the monthly budget process will become quicker and will require much less work to update.
By using the monthly budget, you will also be able to track your spending and visually see where you did well and where you need to improve the next month. If you need more help with building a budget, please refer to my related article: Budget Isn’t A Bad Word.
2. Focus Your Time And Money On Things You Value
If you really examine every dollar you spend on a monthly basis, I’m willing to bet you spend a lot of money on things that don’t add value to your life. For instance, sometimes I get a craving for cheese dip and chips. Needless to say, after I finish that can of cheese dip, my body hates itself and I usually regret my decision.
It’s about getting out of our normal spending habits. Much of our life is on autopilot and we buy and do the same things each day. Make sure each dollar you spend is going towards something that adds value to your life rather than just buying junk to fill a void.
3. Make A Stand – Say “No” To Debt!
This comes down to a change in lifestyle and mindset. We need to be in a mental state that refuses to tolerate debt. Debt is not our friend – not a $100 dollar balance on a credit card, or $10,000. Debt is debt. If you are tired of your money and debt controlling you, it’s time you called the shots. Do you like making monthly interest payments to someone who is profiting off you? Then don’t rack up any more debt! All you need is the basics. Food, clothing, and shelter. Take care of those basics and the rest is all discretionary fluff. Refuse to spend more on fluff than you need to – you can’t afford to add more fluff debt!
4. Cash Is King
Have you ever tried a cash-only budget? A great habit to get into if you’re having difficulty with your spending is to go to the ATM each month and take out cash. Keep your cash separated by the different categories you budgeted for each month. Groceries, for instance, is a common area many people overspend. If you have only a certain amount of cash in your possession, you know exactly what you are allowed to spend. When the cash is gone, it’s gone. No more overdraft issues!
5. Say, “No” To Your Spending Habits!
When do you go shopping for things you don’t need? Many of us have things that happen in our life that trigger us to spend. It may be going to the mall and “window shopping” that turns into “actual shopping.” Others of us are addicted to Amazon. What triggers these spending sprees? Some people shop when they are depressed, others when they are bored. Find out why you spend when you do, and when you feel the need to shop to fill a void – snap out of it and find something else to do that won’t put you in debt. Go for a jog or do some push-ups – physical exercise is a great way to get your mind off things.
6. Reward Yourself!
At times, people on their debt free journey can become disgruntled and lose sight of their goals that seem so far away. We start the journey with optimism and energy, but a few months or years into it we can feel defeated and fail to see the progress we have made. In order to keep yourself motivated on this journey, set small goals for yourself and celebrate when you reach them! For instance, my wife and I have a jar with glass marbles in it. Each marble represents $1,000 and if you add them all together you get our total mortgage. Each $1,000 we pay off our house, a marble is removed. After 10 marbles are taken away, we go out to dinner as a reward!
Making small attainable goals and celebrating our successes is great for keeping us motivated. Reward yourself for reaching small goals but don’t go farther in debt during the celebration…
7. Don’t Spend It – Save It!
This is a great habit that people who win with money do on a daily and weekly basis. If your food budget is $200 a week, and at the end of the week you still have $50 left over – don’t spend it! Don’t make your next weeks budget $250 for food. If you can save money in any area, keep it stashed away until the end of the month and put it toward paying down debt. Often we get excited when we meet a goal or spend less than we planned and we celebrate by buying a steak dinner with the extra money. Instead, use it to pay off your debt that much faster! I like to hide my leftover cash so it is out of sight, out of mind. I can’t spend it if I can’t see it!
Our debt issue is a habit issue. The habit of giving into our lack of willpower, or our habit of ignoring our finances. You have daily habits that you don’t even realize you have. Through perseverance and repetition, you can create new healthy financial habits that take place of bad habits.
You are the only person who can make the choice to be debt free and significantly reduce the financial stress in your life. Eliminating debt and getting on track is difficult only in that it requires a change of habit. It requires you to make a conscious decision to change the way you spend and to build a life that does not worry about money. People with spending plans don’t stress over money – they know where it is going and they have the emergency backups in the event the unexpected happens. I pray you can find this peace that I have and have the determination to change your habits.
If I can be of any assistance to you, please feel free to reach out! There is no reason for you to live another day with this much stress and uncertainty in your life! Please comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what healthy habits you have developed that are not on this list! As always, please remember to subscribe to my blog and share this across social media if you found it helpful! Thank you for reading and stay safe my friends. You work too hard to be this broke!