6 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Drag Yourself Out Of That Debt Sinkhole
Just can’t seem to walk past that shop window without suddenly finding yourself teleported inside, purse open at the check-out grasping an item you totally don’t need? Yeah, us too. Here’s how to get a handle on that problem… and debt in general.
1/Debt-onate the problem
“There’s no debt problem that can’t be resolved,” says Helen Undy, chief executive at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute in the UK. If you’re unsure of how to get yourself out of debt, call on the expertise of a professional debt counsellor. Visit NationalDebtline.za.com for free debt advise or call 087 805 9590.
2/Keep a money journal
You have to get a handle on how you use money before you can understand what to change,’ says Jeannette Bajalia, author of Wi$e Up Women. For 30 days, write down every single thing you buy – whether it costs R1 or R100 – then analyse what spending was actually essential. “My clients say this is the most helpful exercise,” adds Bajalia.
3/Save at the start of the month
Once you’ve worked out what you can afford to put aside, set up a standing order to move that amount into a tax-free savings account as soon as you’ve been paid to avoid the temptation of spending it. Speak to an independent financial advisor to make sure you find the best one for your needs with the lowest fees.
4/Substitute your subscriptions
Meal kits? Gym memberships? “If you’re not using it, cancel it,” urges chartered psychologist Fiona Murden. “If subscriptions make you feel like part of a community, could you fill that gap for free somewhere online, or can you get the same feeling from meeting with friends?”
5/Keep it moving
The more money sitting in an account, the more likely you are to dip in with wild abandon. It’s better to distribute your salary across lots of different pots. Use weekly direct debits to scoop small sums into other accounts, like a joint account or a holiday fund. Without one big chunk available, you won’t blow it all two weeks after payday.
6/Try a 5:2 cleanse
For two days a week, practise the discipline of sticking to only two expenses – transport and food. There’s something smug – and savings-enhancing – about a zero extra-spend day. If restraint doesn’t come easily (or at all), leave your debit card at home and use cash (like actual notes and coins) for essentials.