Are you in debt? Find out our advice on how to get out of over-indebtedness
We live in an age of spending, where the choice of goods and services we can buy far exceeds our ability to pay for them. This inequality can easily make it difficult to sign up for a credit card, mortgage or any other loan.
To be honest, the statistics are staggering. In May 2019, total household debt in the European Union reached €5.88 billion: with mortgages and consumer loans making up the bulk of the debt.
With advertisements calling for more and more spending, debt reduction is a real challenge.
We've developed a 10-step strategy to help you get out of debt to reduce your financial obligations.
It will be difficult. It will take time. But it can be done. Here are some tips to help you.
1. Stop accumulating debt
First of all, you need to change your current posture and spending habits, which are the main reason why you are in the financial situation you are in. This means that you need to stop increasing your debt immediately.
Open your wallet and get rid of all your credit cards to avoid the temptation to spend more money. You can lock up your credit cards in a safe place or freeze them by contacting the card issuer (bank, credit companies...), or literally freeze them by putting them in the freezer.
You also need to review your budget and how you spend your money. Give up expensive habits such as luxury travel, gym memberships, buying the latest and most expensive equipment, smoking and drinking, and use the money to pay off/reduce debt.
2. Determine the amount of your debt
Knowing the true amount of your debt can be daunting. However, it's time to face your fears and deal with your debt so you can take control.
Make a list or chart of all your debts, including :
- what you need
- the total amount you owe
- the due date
- monthly payment
It's not just a matter of making a list and forgetting about it, but updating it every time the amount you owe changes and especially when you make repayments. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and you will begin to realize that you can get out of debt.
3. Pay more than the minimum payment
Making larger monthly payments is one of the most effective ways to pay off your debt faster, regardless of the type of debt - credit card, mortgage or student loan.
The fact is, when you make the minimum payment, you end up paying a high amount of fees on the loan, as opposed to paying off your debt with larger monthly payments.
So, not only is it a way to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but it also speeds up the process of getting out of debt. Make sure your contract does not include prepayment penalties before increasing the minimum payment.
4. Make an additional payment when the opportunity arises.
Think about it for a moment, what is your strategy when you want to buy what you really need? Most often, you set aside any extra money, saving every day until you reach the amount you need.
This should also be your approach to debt repayment. Whenever you have extra money, put it towards paying off your debts, and do it as often as possible. Some months you won't have any money to spend on paying off your loan, but other months you can transfer £50. The point is that these small steps will help you get out of debt faster.
5. Sell what you don't need
You probably have a lot of items in your home that you no longer use. Things like old clothes, furniture, video games, etc. should be considered as extra money.
Here's a plan for you: collect everything you don't need but can use for other people and sell it! Have a yard sale or sell items on eBay and put the money towards debt reduction.
6. Pay off your debts one by one
In 2016, Harvard researchers found that the most effective approach to getting rid of debt is to focus on paying off the smallest debt in full, also known as the snowball method. It works as follows:
- Make a list of all your debts, from the smallest to the largest.
- Pay the minimum amount on all but the smallest debts.
- Each month, pay as much as you can on the smallest debt until the debt is paid in full.
- Then focus on the next small debt.
Try this method and see if it works. From a psychological point of view, this can have a positive impact and help you see the light at the end of the debt tunnel.
7. Earn enough to get out of debt.
The process of clearing debts is not the time to relax. To reinforce your efforts, ask yourself if there is an opportunity to earn more money.
You can start by asking for a promotion in your current job) or submit your resume for a new, higher paying job. If you have useful skills and passions, turn them into money. Think of all the sources of passive income you can think of. You can also go to employment platforms (job center, temp agency,...) to find extra work and earn extra money.
Most importantly, remember to use the extra money you earn to pay off your debts, not to buy new things.
8. Take out a refinance loan.
Refinancing a loan essentially means that you take out a new loan to pay off one or more loans. This usually results in a much lower interest rate or a reduction in the total amount of the loan to be repaid. For example, refinancing a personal loan is often used to combine several loans into one payment. Similarly, personal loans are often used as a way to refinance credit card debt.
If you are looking to refinance a loan, you need to review the details of your existing loan agreement and compare it with what is being offered by other creditors to find the best option for your personal financial goals.
Check to see if there are penalties for prepaying an existing loan, otherwise the refinancing savings will be less than the cost of prepayment.
9 Use mobile applications
When it comes to paying off debt, technology is on your side. Debt repayment apps exist that help you organize your debt information in one convenient place, choose the best repayment strategy, stay motivated, focus on the real reasons why you want to get out of that debt situation, and more.
10. Get professional help
If you think it is too difficult and complicated to get rid of your debts, do not hesitate to ask for professional help.
If you can't control your spending, you can get help online: financial forums, groups, helpful articles, etc.
If you have debts or simply owe money to friends, this is not the time to bury your head in the sand. Have faith in yourself and keep paying off your debts, you'll thank yourself in the end.
Are there any other strategies you've applied that deserve to be mentioned in this list? Let us know!