The other day I wrote a post about my credit card debt. I have recently paid off £1,000 and still have quite a way to go. I have also closed my overdraft which was a huge weight lifted. Below is a list of things I have done to help me clear my debt and some suggestions you may find useful.
1. Put a payment structure in place.
If you have a few debts kicking around, decide which ones need paying first. Sometimes it is best to clear the smaller ones first and then go for the big ones. Have a look at which ones have the highest interest rates and focus on paying those ones first, but also look at what smaller debts you have kicking around as paying those off will take much less time and you’ll save the interest from those debts which can go towards the larger ones.
The first debt I cleared was my overdraft. The £30 a month it was costing me to pay that off (it was only £500) now goes towards my high interest Capital One card. My other credit card has a 0% interest promotion for another 6 months, so it is not costing me anything other than my minimum payments at the moment.
2. Look into all your options and where help is available
If you have various different debts, consolidating them could be a better option. This would mean you are only paying back one debt rather than multiple debts and you will find your debt will be cleared much sooner. Also see what help you can get from your credit provider. For instance, I called Halifax recently and told them my situation. They gave me an extra 6 months free interest, put a payment plan in place for me, cleared a recent late payment charge and blocked my card from future use (to prevent me from going back to square one).
You can also speak to the Money Advice Service who will help you look at all your options and provide you with guidance for moving forward: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en
3. Cut back on unnecessary spending
I have recently stopped buying coffee from the train station. Instead I invested in a Starbucks travel mug and I make a coffee before I leave each morning to drink on the train. This in itself has saved me around £50 a month (I cannot believe I was spending this much on coffee!)
I have also started bringing lunches in. I have found a lunch which I enjoy (tuna and cous cous) and I buy several tins of tuna and several packets of cous cous in bulk each month from B&M. This costs me about £30. Before this I was easily spending £20-£25 a week just on lunches.
4. Go for the cheaper alternative
I have been a bit of a snob in the past and splashed out on the ‘high end’ brands because they cost more, so that means they should be better right? Not necessarily. I have started to research things a little more so I can make sure I am getting low cost, good quality items. I was spending £20 on an eye liner, until somebody introduced me to Collection 2000’s £2.99, completely underrated, babe of a liquid eye liner. It is definitely the best I have come across and it costs 10% of the price!
It is worth investigating the cheaper brands. I used to use Tigi shampoo and conditioner and each cost around £20 a bottle. I am now more than happy with a ‘3 for £10’ bundle of Tresemme products which in all honesty, are just as good as the high end products you can find in salons. It is also worth shopping at places such as B&M, Asda and Iceland. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose sell the same products but will no doubt cost you a lot more.
5. Spend more time looking into your options
I have been spending A LOT of time on websites such as Martin Lewis, or voucher code sites. When I am about to buy something, or even go out for a meal, I have been looking into all options to see if there are any discounts available or special deals. My bank also does Cashback when you spend at certain places. I also have a Cineworld Unlimited card which comes with a lot of perks and discounts.
Google Sheets is my new favourite thing. It means I can keep a track of my finances and access the spreadsheet from almost anywhere. I have created an enormous spreadsheet which has a monthly chart for the next 6 months. I have plotted in certain things I have coming up such as work trips, gigs and holidays and worked out how much I need to set aside each month to cover those things. It also includes a budget for birthdays, Fathers Day etc so I have no surprises. I have also included a budget for things like food and transport.
I really don’t know how I got by before this spreadsheet. I suddenly feel like I have my life in order. Spend some time building a spreadsheet which works for you. It will honestly make things so much easier!
7. Cut back on expensive social events.
I am such a ‘yes’ person so this one hasn’t been easy. I have had to cut back on a lot of social events. I still make sure I see my friends though, just instead of going out I have been organising get together’s at home or doing things which don’t cost too much money. I already signed up to a lot of things earlier in the year which are yet to come, such as festivals and holidays so I know I have a lot coming up, I have just tried to not to commit to too much else.
8. Stop being so careless
I have recently started using only a small amount of washing liquid, or hair shampoo etc. I now use just the right amount, whereas before I would carelessly use more than I needed too. It is crazy how much longer products are lasting me as a result of this. I have also tried not to be so heavy handed so things don’t need replacing/repairing as often.
9. Claim what you are entitle to
A lot of employers will not promote schemes which are available to you, but it is definitely worth investigating and asking the question. For instance, my employer pays for my train season ticket for the year and then deducts this from my salary. This saves me £100 a month, as it is more expensive to pay monthly.
When I bought my bike I also asked my employer about the Cycle to Work scheme which meant I could spread the payments across the year making the bike more affordable, I also saved on tax. It is also worth checking what your work can help with. I was paying for transport to meetings until I found out this is an expense I am able to claim back. Although this may only cost a few pounds here and there, it does all add up.
I LOVE giving people presents and can be a bit too generous when it comes to Christmas and birthdays. I have recently set up a bit of a Birthday committee with my friends whereby we each put in a tenner and decide together what present we will get the person who we are buying for. This means we can all contribute towards a great gift and it only costs £1o per person. For Christmas my brother and I have also joined together to buy presents for a family which means we can spend less but buy more.
11. Sell unwanted items
For a bit of extra cash, why not sell unwanted clothing etc on eBay or at a car bootfair? You will be surprised how much some items sell for.
12. Are all your DDs worth having?
We sold our car recently. It was a tricky decision to make but it was just too expensive too keep and due to having two car incidents (not serious) my insurance went sky high. We live in the town and neither of us work somewhere which we need a car to get to so we decided to sell the car. We are now saving at least £150 a month.
My phone contract also expired recently and instead of rushing to get the latest handset I decided to go for a sim only plan which costs £30 less a month. As much as I would love the latest handset, my phone works fine and I would prefer to save the money. It is worth seeing if you can reduce any of your bills or cut back on some expenses.