Getting a handle on your finances can be scary.
After taking out student loans and struggling to find a job post-graduation, I was overcome by my debt. Working late nights, but ordering take-out just as often, I knew something had to change.
It took me five long years, but today I can officially say that I’m debt free and it feels fantastic. Whether you’re putting off dealing with debt or planning for retirement, your finances don’t magically get better because you don’t look at them. Don’t be like me. Check out Grokker’s new financial wellness program and take control.
Here are 9 things I tried along the way to becoming debt free, and how they changed my life.
Employing 50/30/20 rule
Put 50% of your earnings towards “needs”, 30% to “wants”, and 20% to savings. Grokker Finance Expert Manisha Thakor knows what she’s talking about when it comes to this golden ratio. Using this rule, I was able to make sure I never missed my rent payments, and even had enough left over to be able to go on a trip with my family. Indulging in “wants” when I didn’t have the means left me feeling guilty to the point that I wasn’t even able to enjoy what I was spending the money on. Learning to take a 360 degree view of how I spent my money helped me feel more in control.
Being open with friends about your limits
I no longer hide or feel ashamed of talking about my finances. Whenever I felt the pressure of bills mounting and felt guilty for saying no to plans, I made sure to tell my friends my concerns. Being open with loved ones helped me to get rid of the shame I had around wanting to be more frugal.
Creating a reasonable budget and sticking to it
The printable plan in the new financial wellness program can walk you through how to create a budget that works for your circumstances. For me, a bi-weekly budget timed with when I got paid was the most helpful.
(Don’t be like NPH, stick to those budgets!)
Always look for deals!
Before I would make any purchases, I always make sure to research promotions. Now you can automate this easily with a Chrome browser extension like Honey.
Setting realistic goals
Setting smaller, achievable goals made me feel like my debt wasn’t so insurmountable. For example, I picked an amount I wanted to spend on coffee each week, and saw how much everyday purchases contribute to my yearly budget.
Thrifting or buying second hand
Buying everything secondhand from clothes to kitchen appliances on eBay gave me a new perspective on how much I was wasting on brand new purchases. Doing research on where you can find what you want on the cheap and gently used is good for your wallet, and the planet.
Giving myself a week to think about big purchases
Do I really want that dress or is it just on sale? I usually know the answer, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check. If you really want to get a splurge item, let yourself think about it for at least a week. If after that week it’s still on your mind, it’s meant to be.
Spending time in instead of going out
While I was working on my debt, I started hosting “cheap and cheerful” happy hours at my apartment. We had just as much fun with grocery store wine and potluck snacks as at a fancy bar.
Treating myself… (within reason)
If you do end up wanting to go out with friends or have a movie night with the family, that’s ok! Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive all the time. So long as you keep track of when you deviate from your budget, you’ll be ok.
Giving myself a little recognition for my hard work motivated me to keep going. If it takes you more time to get into the groove and see the results you want, it doesn’t mean you’re failing! All good things take time. Understanding who I am as a person and what I am capable of helped me to become a better me, debt free. Most of all, my journey to becoming debt free taught me to appreciate what I have.