Look at what you’re spending
Not everyone will admit it, but we all spend frivolously at times. We buy things that we don’t need, but really want. We buy something that we think we will use in the future, but is ultimately put in a cupboard and never sees the light of day again. Everyone will find ways that they can cut down on spending if they look hard enough. Something that I use to help me recognise where I’m spending more than I should be is using an app on my smartphone called Toshl. This free app allows you to enter you expenditure as you spend it and gives you an overview of what you are spending on what. It really did help me cut out unnecessary purchases and trim down my overall outgoings. Sometimes, it’s not until you see it laid out in front of you that you realise you have unhealthy spending habits. Of course, if you don’t have a smartphone, you can just write your spending out and have the same outcome.
Look at what you owe
While it is always a good idea to look at your outgoings and trim the fat that way, it can also be really useful to look at what you already owe and who you owe it to. For example, I’ve had a credit card, with a reasonably large balance on it since I was at University. A credit card was something I needed while I was studying and unlike a lot of people, I don’t regret getting one. I do however regret my choice of credit card. I took out my then bank’s student credit card because, well, it made sense. I was a student; I should get the student credit card right? Wrong. That particular card had a really high purchase and interest rate and it wasn’t until fairly recently that I realised this. I shopped around and found one with a different bank that was much, much better for me. The thing is, it wasn’t even a student card. It was just a plain old credit card.
From not paying these ridiculously high interest and purchase rates, I was able to take a sizable chunk off of my monthly outgoings. There is a plethora of credit cards out there that could be giving you a better deal, and this rule doesn’t only apply to credit cards. Mortgages, insurance, savings accounts, anything you can think of that you pay a fee for really. Shop around, there is a good chance that you will be able to get the same service, for a lesser price, you just have to look for it.
Look for opportunities to make extra cash
You might think it is difficult to make extra money in today’s economy, but it is easier than you think. There are a number of ways in which you can bring in extra income, especially through the internet, on a regular basis. Firstly, there is money to be made in nearly everyone’s home. Have a clean out of everything you don’t need; electronics, furniture, DVDs etc. All these things can be sold for money, and there will almost always be a willing buyer. You might not get a lot for them individually, but the amount can tally up, giving you a tidy sum for your troubles. I’d start off with the usual suspects for selling these types of things, with eBay and Gumtree providing ample platforms for doing this.
Secondly, do you have a hobby? A talent? A set of skills? If you do, there is again a chance that you can use these to your advantage and make some money for yourself. I dabble in digital design and photography and my friend recommended a site called Fiverr to me. Fiverr allows you to promote your talents or expertise online to a huge consumer database and set your stipulations as to what you do for, you guessed it, a fiver (£5/$5) Yes, this doesn’t sound like much but I found myself making logos, that take me literally minutes, on a regular basis and it gives me a decent sum at the end of each month. The site obviously isn’t limited to just digital design, there are people who offer content review, singing lessons, voiceovers...anything you can think of really, and there are people willing to pay you for providing these services.
Save while you’re paying off debt
I know this might sound odd and you could ask the question of instead of saving why don’t you just put this money towards paying off your debt? It is a valid question, but I will still stress that you should always be putting money away for a rainy day, even if it is just a small amount of your income. Having these ‘emergency funds’ as I call them is always a good idea, as you never know what is going to happen. Burst pipes, blown tyres, broken boilers. All these things, among many others, can come right out of the blue and they can cost a pretty penny to fix. If you have an emergency fund at all times, then this will save you from using your credit card or borrowing more in order to fix or repair them. Have your own back and make sure you always have money put away for emergencies.
Saving and cutting back can be gruelling and disheartening, but it is something that needs to be done if you want to gain financial security or independence. So, to make it less of a chore, treat yourself for reaching a goal per se. If I manage to cut back costs on a certain thing or save x amount for my emergency fund, then I reward myself accordingly. I don’t go out and buy myself a car or something, but I’ll take my girlfriend through to Edinburgh for dinner, or we’ll go bowling or something. Something we wouldn’t normally do. It’s important to maintain an active social life regardless of what you’re trying to pay off. If you don’t, then you can fall into a funk that’s hard to get out of. If you’re like myself and will be treating yourself to a nice dinner as your reward then I suggest using 5pm.co.uk. You will be able to get a great meal for you and a companion on there for a great price, and, it accumulates points that can be redeemed in the future.
Know of any other tips or tricks that can help you cut down your debt? Let us know in the comments below.
My name is Chris and I’m a 26 year old guy who’s not long out of University. I love football and through my time at Uni I had to be quite frugal, so I decided to mesh these together to create my blog, Spend It Like Beckham. I write about financially related football (and other sports) stories while giving out money saving advice to the best of my ability.
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