Debt is that other four letter word – the one that most of us have to deal with or have had to deal with at some point. There are millions of ways to get into debt and to lose control of it. It is kind of like gaining weight – first it is one or two pounds, then ten, then 35, then more…. At what point do you recognize that it is a problem? Certainly one or two pounds isn’t a problem but 35 definitely could be.
When you recognize that you have gained too much weight you can take control of it and come up with a plan to lose the weight or let the problem get worse and amplify the struggles. Finances are the same. Once you recognize the debt is a problem – take control, come up with a plan and more forward, recognizing that it will take time and plenty of it.
Ballast Associates – What Is Debt
In the most simplistic terms – debt is when something, usually money, is owed by one party, the borrower or debtor, to a second party, the lender or creditor. (Wikipedia). We often associate debt with credit cards, loans, mortgages etc… But it could also be medical bills, consumer bills and so many others.
Ballast Associates – Let’s Get Started
There are many changes you can make immediately to help you get out of debt fast. If you are in way over your head, it will take more time but the process is similar.
Stop using credit cards
This is one of those things I commonly refer to as the devil. That is in part a joke and in part a true feeling. I am sure you have heard before that a great way to stop using credit cards is to freeze them in a cup of water in the freezer. I actually haven’t resorted to that because I can still access them. What I have done it put them all in a separate wallet that I don’t carry and would really need to plan accordingly in order to use them. The effect in reality though is that I keep misplacing the wallet that I don’t use – knowing it is somewhere in the house (I know it isn’t missing). So if I really want to use those cards I need to now contact the banking institution for new cards. Well not much is that important.
Ballast Associates suggests set up a spending plan and stick to it
This may seem easy but it can be tricky. You really have to know what you spend money on, where you lack impulse control, where you are spending the “pennies” – because the pennies do add up. I was buying a Diet Coke from McDonalds every day. I rationalized it as being less expensive than coffee (which I don’t drink) and they are only $1. Then I started buying 2 or 3 a day. It was convenient. Working with our horses is exhausted and we were constantly thirsty. The solution was to just run down the road to McDonalds. But $3 a day is still $90 a month! Well I didn’t care about the $3 but I care about $90 for sure!
Keep a log – for everything!
How can you control any of your spending and decisions without knowing what you spend on. For us, we have learned to keep all receipts – everything. If I buy grain for the horses – I can easily calculate how much I spend on grain in a month; groceries – same thing; fast food – yup… You’d be just as surprised as I was I am sure when you really truly commit to tracking everything – every single thing!
Pay Bills online and on time
Technology has made paying bills so much easier. I used to hate (actually dread) writing out checks. So annoying and seemed to take so much time. Now you can pay bills online, schedule them in advance – as soon as the bills come in I set them up for the exact day to pay them based on my pay dates. In this way your bill paying becomes easily trackable and very predictable.
The emergency fund
So many people say they don’t have money to save for an emergency but I say they do. There are so many ways to do it but let’s consider those Diet Cokes. $3 per day – start paying yourself that $3 a day and instead drink water. You will have $1,095 at the end of the year and with an impact that is not even noticeable. You didn’t notice spending that $90 a month – just pay yourself instead of McDonalds…
Constantly analyze your finances
This is important for so many reasons but think of technological advancements. Eight months ago we cut the cord for cable and made some major changes to save money. But already there are even more advances that may make another change more desirable.
I don’t completely use cash but I do try to use it as much as possible. Mentally I find it so easy to just swipe a debit card However, when I have to rely on cash it is a great deal more difficult to give up that $20 even though it is given barely even a moments thought when I need to swipe a card.
Develop goals and keep them accessible at all times
Thankfully most of us have smartphones nowadays so any lists you need can be right at your fingertips. Same for the goals – set them and keep them with you at all times as a constant reminder of the journey.
Impulse buying needs to be a thing of the past
How many times have you purchased something that you just had to have – then 2 years later you find it in a corner of a closet. Take at least 24 hours to consider your purchases. It will be interesting to see just how many times or how frequently what you desire actually changes within 24 hours.
Slipups – Restart
Just like a diet you may slip up. Don’t let that completely sabotage your efforts – every day is a new day. The same thing I tell my kids when they misbehave, tomorrow is a new day… Start again.
Save on all purchases
Of course you will need to purchase things. When you buy groceries, commit to saving money – coupons, sales, etc.. Use available apps – if you can’t get a good deal, don’t do it or wait for a better time. Don’t forget to always download store apps.
Get money back on purchase
You can not only save on purchases but you can get money back. Make sure you are checking apps like Ebates, Swagbucks, Ibotta etc.. There are so many out there and there are more and more all the time.
What can you eliminate?
You can cut the cable and still have entertainment – probably even more than with cable. Sign up for alternative options such as Sling, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc… You will never be short of things to watch.
It is easier and easier to sell stuff nowadays. I turn to Facebook Marketplace a lot. I used to sell a great deal on Ebay when I needed to make some extra cash but who needs all those fees. I would rather sell my item for less, locally and no fees. But think of places to sell online and in person.
Pick up a side hustle
Everyone can pick up a side hustle. It can be online or even babysitting, dog sitting, selling lemonade etc… Yes, even my kids can make their own money when we make the time for them to do it. Just last week my daughter wanted a Gameboy – I said , okay how are you going to make that happen. She wasn’t thrilled with the pushback but literally by the end of the day she had made enough money not only for the Gameboy but also for 2 game cartridges.
Eat out less
Those Saturday pizza nights – instead of going out as a family, take the time to make your own (far better anyway) and turn it into a full family night with pizza, games etc…
Hair care at home
It is easy to cut boys hair – do it every chance you can. Even my daughter who is now 14 has been cutting my son’s hair ( he is now 18) since she was 9 years old. I also cut her hair and have gotten to the point in the last year that she now cuts even mine.
Learn to make what you can. We make our own laundry detergent, dish soap, blankets, facial scrubs and so much more.
Do you realize how expensive hand soap is? And… do you know how cheap bubble bath is? I fill all our hand soap dispensers with bubble bath and the best result is that my kids like the scents better and they are more willing to use it.
Take free classes
Check out YouTube, Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy and more. These are all right at your fingertips and easily accessible.
There are so many ways to be entertained for free. For example summer time has movies on the green in our area, concerts on Thursdays, Free Fridays and so much more. We search for every swimming hole we can find within 20 miles. The result has been us finding some places I never could have imagined; the kids prefer those places; and often we have them all to ourselves. We almost never have to swim with anyone anymore – we are spoiled and want the run of the place.
Second hand shopping
I don’t exactly enjoy shopping at chain retail establishments – but I love taking me time to find treasures and second hand stores are not only full of them to meet my needs. But they are also full of great ways to make money.
What other ways can you think of to get out of debt quickly? Ballast Associates can help!
Don’t let setbacks sabotage long term success