Americans have a tragic love affair with personal debt. We are a nation that is accustomed to living beyond our means, and our end-of-the-month bills surely prove it. However, becoming debt-free, or taking concrete steps in that direction, it is achievable by making a few small changes to your financial habits. Let’s take a look at six ways to get in (or stay in!) the black:
1. Stay Away From Payday Loans
Our obsession with lending has led to quick-fix payday loans flooding the market. Often, these products have hidden fees and skyrocketing interest rates, making it all too easy to spiral further into debt. Fortunately, there are a growing number of alternatives to payday loans offering small amounts of cash to those in short-term need with far more manageable repayment terms.
2. Record Your Spending
It’s a no-brainer – you have to know where your money is going if you want to curb your spending. It may be as simple as those small impulse purchases at the supermarket check-out and a that extra six-pack that you really didn’t need that could be adding up to a budget squeeze. Make it easy for yourself with a budgeting app that tracks all your expenditure, giving you an itemised list of how much you’re spending and on what.
3. The Three Month Rule
This could be revolutionary. Integral to the ‘minimalist’ movement is the idea to wait three months before making a major capital or luxury item purchase. Too often we’re lured in by a shiny new toy (be it a phone, a drone or perhaps an expensive dress) that we don’t particularly like or need. The rule is simple. If you’re still thinking about it in three months, treat yourself. You’ll be surprised by how many ‘must have’ items are soon forgotten.
4. Get a Side-Hustle
Take advantage of the burgeoning gig-economy and get working on your side-hustle. An excellent good place to start is rifling through your storage (you know, that stuff you forgot you even had?) and listing an ad on eBay. There are also plenty of apps that allow you to earn extra cash outside of business hours- from the obvious (Uber and Deliveroo) to the niche (such as Paws the dog-walking app).
5. Borrow, Don’t Buy
We’re increasingly moving towards a sharing economy. thanks to apps like Craigslist, Airbnb and Lyft, It’s never been easier to rent, borrow or share big-purchase items, or buy them second-hand. Rather than forking out for single-use items, reach out to your online community. Facebook groups in your local area are a good place to start. It will surely inspire you to find new ways to share and, ultimately, save. You’ll be ridesharing in no time.
6. Reduce Your Food Waste
Food waste is endemic in modern society. In fact, Americans throw out an estimated $165 Billion worth of food every year. Is your chin on the floor too? Most of this is because people forget what they have in the fridge. You could save yourself a pretty penny by getting into the habit of cleaning the refridgerator once a week before you go shopping. No more double-ups, no more over-buying. And while you’re at it, don’t go to the shops hungry. That way, what you buy will be determined by price – not your rumbling stomach.
See? It’s simple. Being in debt can be overwhelming, but by making little everyday changes, you can get back in the black. Good luck!