Tips for Keeping Yourself out of Debt
Saving money can be a struggle. There are things you might have to pay for like a phone bill, food, tuition and more. So, with everything that requires money, how do you keep yourself out of debt? Reading articles like this one is a great first step! Below are some tips to help you be debt-free and stay that way.
- Take the time to crunch the numbers. Anyone can tell you that you need to budget – but who wants to actually do that? Budgeting is not a fun activity, but it’s necessary to help you get, and stay, on track with your money. There are budgeting tools like the one offered by the Government of Canada or Mint but you can also do it on your own using an excel sheet! For some ideas on how to set one up you can find some templates here. Start with any credit card statements, bank statements, repeating payments (car loans, student loans, rent, if you have any of these) and list them all out. Next list any sources of income, like your salary, and list those out. Now that you have the big numbers cleared, see where you spend smaller everyday amounts like shopping, meals, coffee, etc.
Note: Even if you’re not in debt, this step is incredibly important to give you a sense of where your money goes.
- Regularly add onto your savings. You can transfer money to your savings account manually or you can set up automatic transfers to a savings account. You can set these automatic transfers up yourself through mobile or online banking or go into your bank and they can help you. This regular transfer can be any amount you want. It is recommended to try to save 20% of your paycheck – but if your just starting to save you may want to start a bit lower at 10% of your paycheck or whatever you’re able to afford.
- Create an emergency fund. Your emergency fund is to be used for emergencies, but if you’re just getting out of debt, this fund can help you with your loans as well as unexpected expenses like receiving health care, accidents, etc.
- Once your budget is set, try not to change it. Alright, you’ve got your numbers with tips 1-3 and all that’s left is to apply it. Different circumstances might force you to put less into savings (you’re changing jobs, having to dip into your emergency fund, etc.). But if you’re constantly changing things around like not transferring to savings consistently, or spending more money than you allocated for, you might need to re-evaluate your budget to something that works better for you or look at ways to cut down some of your costs.
- Don’t rely on your credit. If you have a credit card, line of credit, or other type of loan, or you are thinking about applying for one, it may not be the best idea to use it regularly. It can be difficult to know how much you are spending on credit and things like interest might surprise you.
- Make the commitment to change your spending habits if you need to. There are a lot of tempting things to get when you’ve got money in your pocket. You’re more likely to say yes to going out, shopping or spending your hard earned money right away. If you want to go out to eat, try to choose something that costs less on the menu, or opt to order water rather than something that costs money. If you want to go shopping, try thrift stores or watch out for sales. That being said don’t buy something, just because it’s a good deal. Small changes will add up to bigger savings, but you’ve got to be mindful of your spending habits!
Money is always a difficult topic, and no one knows absolutely everything there is to know about how to handle their money. Things are constantly changing, so be patient with yourself, especially if you’ve accidentally spent a bit too much this time around. Managing finances can be a very personal process to figure out how to handle your spending habits and your own budget!
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