Cath's Story: Building a debt free life...
Hi - two years ago I was just about to get married and 20K in debt + 15K we borrowed to get married. Today - totally debt free. How did I do it? In lots of ways that delivered results.
1. Got a really good reality check - know where I stood and what was a priority to pay off
2. Increased my take home pay - got a better job with better conditions ( took 6 months but I got there)
3. Focused on one debt at a time, paid it off in big chunks after working out what I could live on to cover my expenses
4. Once I paid one thing off, moved to the next priority
5. Got rid of unnecessary expenses - gym memberships, subscriptions
6. Worked out the average cost of my bills for a year and then a month and set about making fortnightly payments in small increments - meaning I had the most available cash at anyone time - more money to direct towards debt
7. STOPPED SPENDING THOUGHTLESSLY - I would carry a budget card around in my wallet - every time I would want to buy something - I look at this and see the damage it would do to my situation today and on the flip side of the card had where I would be in 3 months, 6 months, 12 months if I stuck to my payment plan - therefore motivating me to make the connection between that shirt I bought today and the extra month of debt I would be living in in my life
8. Learned to cook more food at home, in a way that I could take it to work, use for snacks and be creative - my groceries bills may be a little high but I don't spend a cent during the week
9. Set a spending routine - do your groceries once a week with good planning, fill the car up once a week on the same day - take your receipts and pop them in a jar so you can see what you are spending each week - this saved me $$$
10. Think about the future - what kind of life do you want for your kids - stressed by debt? living in a false dream that's on credit rather than hard work - once you wrap your head around your philosophy with money you understand how managing money - not being a slave to it - can make you happy.
Finally, if I can say one thing, my Uncle is a great man - he's not showy, has a modest house in the suburbs, 5 kids, a great wife and he lives simply. They are the happiest family I have ever met and you know what - they are millionaires.
When Arthur Anderson collapsed, all the partners in my Uncle's firm were selling their houses to pay debts, breaking up with their wives/partners because the financial distress had ruined their relationships, pulling their kids out of private schools they couldn't afford.
A number of them turned to my Uncle and asked him why he wasn't falling apart and he said to them - because I lived my life honestly, I never borrowed beyond what I could afford, I never sought credit to fund a life that is not mine - I asked for happiness, health and security and nothing more and that is what I have got.
We make money too complicated and make it compensate for the things we think we need - if we just take a moment to think about what we REALLY need, then all that big house, that flash car, that jewelry, those clothes, that credit card debt - is not an honest life.
You might want those things but do you need them? I'm working to build a life debt-free with my husband that is about happiness, health and the security that comes with knowing there is money in the bank and a fulfilling honest life to be lived.