We are all trying to make ends meet in these times of financial turmoil, but the debts are driving almost everybody nuts? People have reduced their expenses to the last coin they have, and still the debt keeps rising. This makes you wonder whether there is something wrong you are doing. Accumulating debt is the easy part, paying for all your debts is the basically a living hell. The following article by Melanie Fine, CPA, hopefully will shed some light on how to pay off your debt, and ensure you have a constant flow of money even in times of recession.
Debt, debt, debt… That is all that we are hearing about these days. Governments, corporations, families and individuals are struggling with debt. To make things worse, people are losing jobs, money and homes. And to top it all off the governments are asking us to go and spend money. But wait a second – we don’t have any money. It’s a vicious circle – are you ready to get off of it? Do you wish you were recession proof?
Take on these 7 steps and you will be on the road to being rid of debt forever ,and being recession proof in the future.
1) Make a choice right now to be debt free.
Sounds too easy? Well it is. Just make the choice and keep reminding yourself every day of that choice. Then tell everyone you know that you have made that choice and give them permission to remind you of that choice. Every time you go to buy something that doesn’t line up with your goal of becoming debt free – make the choice again – to be debt free.
2) Stop using your credit cards and lines of credit NOW – live on cash.
If you stop using your credit cards right now – guess what? You wont’ be accumulating anymore debt. So stop using them now – cut them up or give them to someone you trust. Whatever you choose to do – just stop using them.
3) Figure out how much debt you have and get help if you need it.
Work out how much debt you actually have. You could be surprised. You may have less then you think. You may have more. Whatever the case you can’t get out of debt until you know how much you have. If it is overwhelming for you, then get help. Call a money wise friend, read a book or call an expert.
4) Track your expenses.
You don’t know how much you can pay each month toward paying down your debt unless you know how much you need to survive. Take what you earn and subtract your necessities. That is what is necessary – your housing, food, transportation etc. Not the latest DVD that just came out or the boots that are on sale today. If you don’t have enough income to cover your necessary expenses and your debt repayment , then you must cut those expenses or increase your income.
5) Create a plan to pay your debt off.
Now you know how much debt you have, create a debt schedule and a plan to pay it off. Pay the minimums on every debt each month. Then with what extra money you have, pay it to the debt with the highest interest. Once that debt is paid off take that amount and apply it to the debt with next highest interest rate. Find ways to pay off your debt in chunks – what can you sell to pay off chunks of your debt?
6) Once your debt is paid off, start saving.
OK, so you have paid all of your debt off. Yes this is a time to celebrate. But not by going out an buying something. Now you have to start saving about 6 months to 1 years of expenses. This will recession proof or job loss proof you until you can replace your income if you lose it. Many people pay off their debt and feel good, but forget about this part. This is your contingency fund. It will give you a cushion to survive without accumulating more debt.
7) DON”T USE CREDIT CARDS OR LINES OF CREDIT ANYMORE
Yes, I used all caps. Because this is the most important part of the recession proof plan. Live within your means. That means don’t spend more than what you earn, and save. Put a plan in place to save for that vacation you want to take. No more buy now pay later. It’s that easy. Just keep remembering that choice you made in step 1.
Just think about how freeing it will be when the next recession comes around and you don’t feel the effects of it. While the doom and gloom is going on around you, you can say to yourself “You know what – we are going to OK – we planned for this!”