It's easy to let debt build up, but it can be a real strain to reduce your debt. And there's only one way that you can be certain to become free of debt; Repay the interest and a bit extra every month and keep going. And the more you pay over and above the interest every month, the quicker you'll be able to reduce your debt.
The only threat to this plan is if you give up and stop making such an effort to repay as much as you can each month.
Some people reach breaking point over their financial situation and decide to reduce their debts as soon as possible. So they cut all their expenses right to the bone. They stop going out, they sell their television and even eat less. In other words, they stop living and start existing.
Okay, they save substantial amounts from their budget and start to eat into their debt. But that lasts for approximately three weeks.
Why? Because they can't stand the deprivation and before long they return to their old ways, pay just the bear minimum on their debts each month.
Hardly a recipe for long term debt reduction success!
Giving up drinking or eating out might seem the most obvious way to reduce your debt, but would you be able to stick to your new way of life long enough for it to make a difference?
So what's the secret?
Well, one of the best strategies is to save money on things that won't make a difference to the quality of your life. For example, finding a lower rate of interest on your loans or turning your heating down one degree etc. The money that you save on these everyday expenses can then be used to speed up the repayment of your debts.
And this carries one massive advantage - Staying Power.
As I said a moment ago, if you keep making the monthly payments you will reduce your debt
Giving up is the greatest threat to your financial freedom. But if you can save money on things that won't noticably alter your lifestyle, repaying your debts at a faster rate won't feel like a punishment.
And it won't even cross your mind to give up. And before long you'll be free of your debts.
So here are eight ways to free up more money from your monthly budget to repay your debts.
1) Turn your central heating down a fraction. Wrap up warm. Many layers of thin clothing are better than one thick garment. One extra thin layer of clothing will allow you to reduce your heating by 1°C and save between 20 -25% on heating costs.
2) Turn off the lights if you're not using a room. And consider using low energy light bulbs. It can cut your energy consumption for lighting by as much as 90%. Or consider fitting halogen bulbs, as they only use 20% of the power required by regular lamps. Although these energy efficient light bulbs cost more to buy initially, they'll last between 10 – 12 times longer than conventional bulbs, so you'll save money in the long run.
3) Taking a shower instead of a bath can save up to 90% of the water used to fill a standard sized bath. This will save money in two different ways. First, it means less water to heat and second, it won't cost as much if your water is metered. But if you do have a bath, don’t overfill it or run it hotter than is required. Letting water out because the bath is too full or too hot is wasteful.
4) Try to avoid heating your house and then opening the windows. The heat (and your money) will just escape from your house faster than normal.
5) Don't leave your television on stand-by. Apart from being dangerous if done overnight, an electrical item on stand-by uses around 20% of the power that it uses when switched on. And the same goes for computers, video recorders, dvd players, toasters etc.
6) Use rechargeable batteries. These days just about every household gadget uses batteries, including; clocks, remote control units, alarm clocks, children's toys etc.
7) Downgrade your television subscription package. After all, do you honestly watch every channel that you pay for month after month? Cut out a few of the channels that you don't really watch, and it will save you money on a regular basis.
8) Don't spend money on notepads, just use the envelopes that you receive in the mail every day. It will help you to avoid an unnecessary expense and make use of all the junk mail that everyone is sent.
Start with these simple steps and see how much money it allows you to save each month. Then put all of it towards reducing the size of your debt. After all, what have you got to lose? Who knows, it might allow you to reduce your debt without noticing any real change to your quality of life.
by Stuart Laing
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