This article was co-written with Amy Nickson.
Becoming debt free is not something anyone can achieve overnight. To get out of debt, you need to make a lot of changes in your lifestyle. You need to say “no” to many temptations. You need to follow a financially disciplined life. And no matter how much of a struggle it is, the best part of paying off debt is that it helps you to develop some good financial habits that can help you avoid further financial problems. You can become a pro in managing money — thus, you should retain those good habits forever.
Here are some habits that you should keep following in your life:
1. You should keep following your budget
Budgeting is the key tool that helps you get out of a financial problem. Budgeting not only helps to track your finances, it also helps to pay off your debt. How?
- When debt payoff is your main priority, you need to include the debt payments as the main expenses in your budget. To do so, you need to cut down all your unnecessary expenses to save more money. So, by following a budget, you can manage your basic expenses while making the debt payments consistently.
- Following a monthly budget will help you to understand where your money is going. You can decide what are the priorities for the month, and where your money will go. Whether you want to focus on spending your money, the choice is yours.
- The budget helps you to fit in some important purchases. You can take advantages of the sale to buy things at a cheaper rate.
- If you keep following a budget, you will be able to save money to achieve many life goals beyond paying off debt, like vacation, retirement or college without facing the financial crunch. Thus, it is recommended not to stop following a budget even if you successfully paid off your debt.
- Remember, a budget is a living document that you should update as expenses change.
- Revise the budget from time to time to make the necessary modifications to get the best result.
- If your debt amount is huge, you may need to boost your income.
2. Keep saving money
The debt payoff journey helped many people to find out ways to save money. People started living within their means to save more, and thus pay off more debt. At first, they may face difficulties, but with time, they can easily change their lifestyle. They start building a good habit of saving money gradually.
You know that to get out of debt faster, you need to make larger debt payments toward your debt. Making the minimum payment is not enough; you may end up with paying more. Thus, saving money is crucial. You find every possible way to save as much as you can — the trick is to continue saving money even after paying off your debt. Keep up the habit of saving what you would have previously used towards debt, but now, just direct it towards savings, like your emergency fund or retirement.
How can you save money in your daily life?
It is important to stay focused on saving money consistently to avoid any kind of financial troubles. As I said earlier, you just need to stay within your means.
- Cut down junk expenses like cable, Netflix, gym membership, and magazine subscription etc.
- Pay yourself first. When you receive the pay-check, set aside a certain amount each month.
- Buy only what you need. Carry a list when shopping.
- Plan your meals. Get creative with leftovers.
- Consider frugal fashion.
- Use cash as much as possible.
- Don’t spend more than you earn.
- Set up auto pay.
- Don’t stop the following budget.
3. Keep checking your spending behavior
A lot of people change their spending behavior during their debt payoff journey. Now, they are more responsible when it comes to spending money. They don’t want to blow their money unnecessarily anymore, because it means getting closer to being debt-free. They stop splurging their hard-earned money because they don’t want to fall into financial trouble again.
Why is it important to create better spending habit?
Spending money is usually a fun part of life. But, if you spend meaninglessly, you will not be able to control your finances. So, how can you build better spending habits?
- Anything you didn’t buy during your debt payoff journey should remain off-limits (to some extent).
- You need to set the spending goals based on what is honestly important to you.
- Try to research before you spend. Consider comparison shopping to get the best value for an item.
- Consider a “walk-through” before spending money on an item.
- Check out the items that you already own. It will help you to not spend unnecessarily.
4. Keep your credit card spending at bay
Paying off debt means not accruing more — which means limiting your credit card usage. Gradually, it becomes a habit. So, after paying off your debt, you should keep trying to use credit cards less.
How can you avoid excessive use of credit cards?
Since credit cards are convenient, people swipe their cards to get whatever they want without thinking about an item’s affordability. But remember, in order to keep yourself out of debt, you have to make the payments on time.
- Make your credit card payments within the stipulated time frame.
- You should understand that if you can’t pay for an item with cash, you shouldn’t buy it with a credit card.
- Carry cash; it helps you stay within your means.
- Avoid buying groceries with your credit card if you risk not being able to pay your bill in full. Paying interest on disposable items is a no-no.
- Don’t charge what you can’t afford just to earn reward points.
- Limit your number of credit cards.
- Keep trying to make your credit card payments on time to avoid painful debts.
- Pay the balance in full each month.
- Read the fine print before getting a credit card.
Aitza B is a millennial Native Floridian turned Tar Heel who spends her time taking photos, drinking cups of tea, ranting about plotlines, learning to code and stanning for Beyoncé and Serena Williams. She loves writing about pop culture, personal finance, books, black womanhood, and career advice with the hopes of encouraging others. Visit her blog, Petitely Packaged, and say hello to her on Instagram or Twitter.
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