Now that I'm no longer semi-anonymous with my finance blogging, I tend to have a lot of friends and random people asking me finance questions.
I have people pouring what seems like their heart and soul to me because they really want to change and improve their situation.
This is something that I love about being a personal finance blogger – the fact that I can (hopefully) help someone change their life and teach them how to manage their money better.
Many of the questions I receive involve debt and what they can do to change their situation.
Someone told me they had over $200,000 in student loan debt, another person recently told me they had over $100,000 in credit card debt, some are hiding their finance problems from their families, some have told me that they are beyond house poor and they don't know what to do.
The list goes on and on about the stories that I have heard.
I think the first thing a person needs to do when it comes to eliminating their debt is to realize WHY they are in debt in the first place (the next step is to actively reduce your debt – read How To Eliminate Your Debt). If you don't know what your problem is, then it would be hard to make a positive change.
Yes, it is great to just start attacking your debt, but you also don't want to fall into a vicious cycle of going into debt over and over again.
Here are some of the many reasons for why you may be in debt.
You think you have plenty of time to pay off your debt.
When I was in the middle of paying off my $40,000 worth of student loan debt, I remember being asked why I wanted to get rid of my student loan debt so quickly.
You know the saying about how there is no such thing as a stupid question?
Well, I thought that question was extremely stupid. I thought (and still think) it was probably the most stupid question I have ever been asked or heard.
I can't remember the conversation exactly, but I remember them saying something about how I'm young and I should enjoy my money more and that I can worry about my student loans later.
Why not just pay off your debt more? Would you really rather have than 100th pair of jeans instead of putting more towards your debt? I know for a fact that I will probably completely forget about an article of clothing (even though I love clothes!) and I will appreciate my debt being paid off more.
I still enjoyed my life while I was paying off my debt, and I definitely do not think I was suffering at all.
It's been around seven months since I completely paid off my student loans, and I couldn't be happier!
You also never know what may happen. If you wait to pay off your debt and instead spend your money on things that you don't need, you may fall into a bad situation. What would happen if you lost your job, came across high medical bills, or something else?
Wouldn't you have wanted your debt to be gone?
You treat your credit card as income.
Your credit card is not a new income source. If you treat your credit card this way, then you should cancel your credit card.
Oh well if closing your account means that you will be lowering your credit score, you are probably doing worse damage anyways by racking up large credit card bills that you can't pay.
If you are using a credit card, then you should be working to pay off your balance completely each month.
So-and-so has debt, so it's fine if you do too.
Many people compare their debt amounts to others in hopes that they will feel more “normal” about their debt and not feel as bad. An example would be if you are 30 and the average 30-year-old has $10,000 worth of credit card debt (I completely just made that number up). You then use this number as a “guide” to yourself so that you can feel more comfortable about your debt.
However, WHO CARES about how much debt another person has? How exactly does knowing what the average amount of debt a random 30-year-old has affect you?
Is that person you?
So, why would another person's amount of debt even matter to you? That makes no sense!
Just because someone else has $10,000 worth of credit card debt from buying too much clothing does not mean that you should too. You never know, this amount may be breaking them on the inside even if they aren't showing it.
You believe you deserve the items you buy.
Yes, you may be awesome and think you deserve it, but should you really be buying it? Just because someone else just bought a 100 inch 3D TV (or a mansion, nice car, gadgets, a crazy-expensive wedding, etc.) doesn't mean that you should as well.
You might think “oh well they have a comparable job to mine, so, if they can afford, then I can too.”
However, you have no idea how this person is paying for it. Maybe they saved for years, or maybe they are just putting everything on their credit card.
I recently talked to someone who has over $100,000 in credit card debt and I could tell they were in panic mode. They bought way too much house, way too much car, way too much everything. They thought they deserved it all since others were buying something similar.
You don't need to keep up with the Joneses!
There are many ways to cut down your spending. Below is a quick list:
- Lower your cell phone bill. Instead of paying the $150 or more that you spend on your cell phone bill, there are companies out there like Republic Wireless that offer cell phone service starting at $10. YES, I SAID $10! If you use my Republic Wireless affiliate link, you can change your life and start saving thousands of dollars a year on your cell phone service. I created a full review on Republic Wireless as well if you are interested in hearing more. I’ve been using them for over a year and they are great.
- ATM fees. Why do people do this to themselves?
- TV. Cut your cable, satellite, etc. Even go as far to go without Netflix or Hulu. Buy a digital antenna (this is the one we have) and enjoy free TV.
- Sign up for a website like Ebates where you can earn CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. The service is free too! Plus, when you sign up through my link, you also receive a free $10 gift card bonus to Macys, Walmart, Target, or Kohls!
- Pay bills on time. This way you can avoid late fees.
- Shop around for insurance. This includes health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, home insurance and so on. Insurance pricing can vary significantly from one company to the next. When we were shopping for car insurance last, we found that our old company wanted something like $205 to insure one car for one month, whereas the new company we have now charges $50 a month for the same exact coverage. INSANE!
- Save money on food. I recently joined $5 Meal Plan in order to help me eat at home more and cut my food spending. It’s only $5 a month (the first four weeks are free too) and you get meal plans sent straight to you along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well!
- Fuel savings. Combine your car trips, drive more efficiently, get a fuel efficient car, etc.
- Trade in your car for a cheaper one. For us, we are car people. Cars are one of our splurges. However, if you only have a nice car to keep up with the Joneses, then you might want to get rid of it and get something that makes more sense.
- Live in a cheaper home. I’m not saying you need to go live in a box, but if you live in a McMansion then you may want to think about a smaller home. This way you can save money on utility bills and your mortgage payment.
- Use a programmable thermostat so that you can heat and cool your home efficiently and more affordably.
- Learn to have more frugal fun. We don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of money on entertainment as we used to. There are plenty of ways to have frugal fun.
- DIY certain projects. I recently did a post about DIY wedding ideas and whether they were worth it or not. Read it!
- Check out my recommendations page for a full list on money-saving websites.
Some ways to make extra money are below, but check out the related articles below to see many, many more:
- Start a blog. Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. I made over $320,000 last year by blogging and I’m hoping to double that in 2016. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
- Sell your stuff. There are many things you can do to make money by selling items. We all have extra things laying around that can be sold, or you can even search for items that can be bought and resold for a profit.
- Rent an extra room in your home. If you have extra space in your home, then you may want to rent it out. Read A Complete Guide To Renting A Room For Extra Money.
- Answer surveys. Survey companies I recommend include VIP Voice, Earning Station, American Consumer Opinion, ProOpinion, YouGov, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, Survey Spot, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
- Invest. There are no guarantees when it comes to investing, but you should always start sooner rather than later. If you are looking for a good investing platform, I recommend Motif. Motif Investing allows individuals to invest affordably. This approachable investing platform makes it easy to buy a portfolio of up to 30 stocks, bonds or ETFs for just $9.95 total commission. Plus, you will receive up to $150 for FREE when you use Motif Investing when you sign up under my link.
- Become an Uber or Lyft driver – Spending your spare time by driving others around can be a great money maker. Read more about this in my post – How To Become An Uber Or Lyft Driver. Click here to join Uber and start making money ASAP.
- Use Swagbucks for your online searches. Swagbucks is something I don’t use as much, but I do occasionally earn Amazon gift cards with very little work. Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded “Swagbucks” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough Swagbucks, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. You’ll receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up today!
- Try Digital Voice. Another one you may be interested in related to Swagbucks is Nielsen Digital Voice. Digital Voice is a part of Nielsen, which I’m sure you’ve heard of. All you have to do is surf the web and you may be able to start earning money.
- Try InboxDollars. InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming grocery coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free just for signing up!
- Test websites. One company I recommend for virtual assistant work is UserTesting. This website pays you to test websites and they pay fairly well.
- Find a part-time job. There are many part-time jobs that you may be able to find. You can find a job on sites such as Snagajob, Craigslist (yes, I’ve found a legitimate job through there before), Monster, and so on.
- 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money
- 10 Ways To Make Money Online From The Comfort of Your Home
- 10 Things I’ve Done To Make Extra Money
- Ways To Make An Extra $1,000 A Month
Why are you in debt? What reasons have you caught yourself using?
If you're feeling extra brave, please share how much debt you have (house, car, student loans, credit cards, etc.).
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