Last week, we talked about how the word Debt can be neutral.This week we’re going to be talking a bit more about the steps you can start taking TODAY to get out of debt.
Clients come to me all of the time totally stressed out about money and their spending. They purchase something they wanted and then a couple days or weeks later they are feeling guilty or regretting the purchase. Or sometimes they look at their credit card statement at the end of the month and have NO IDEA how the bill got so high.
Can you relate?
I figured you would be able to. I want to start off by saying this is totally normal and there is nothing wrong with you if you often feel like this. All too frequently though we are in pain today for what we wish we had not purchased yesterday or last month or last year or even worse for what we don’t even know what we spent the money on and how that dang credit card bill got so high.
So now what?! How do we get out debt?
Well first things first, you need to get out of your emotions and start thinking logically! by being logical and nonemotional. Are you are scratching your head thinking… “Hey hey I thought this was for female entrepreneurs?! Do you mean to tell me that you aren’t emotional about your money?”
Of course, I have gotten emotional about my money especially when it feels tight.
But that is not the way to get out of debt. You have to use your logic and you have to use a system and you have to be very methodical.
And that is what I’m going to teach you today. Five steps to get you out of debt:
Step One: Figure out where all your current money is going.
Use a money management system to track your expenses and your income. I highly recommend YNAB.
Sign up here and you’ll get one free month for you, and one free month for me if you choose to sign up. It’s less than $5 a month and you will save soooo much money following their system! They also have free online money management classes too!! Listen to as many as you need.
YNAB has a totally different paradigm around managing your money. Their philosophy is you can only budget for the money you actually have right now. Yes, today what you have in your bank account today. Not tomorrow, not next month and not in four months.
With this paradigm shift, you will rapidly see where you are with your finances. You can use their software for 34 days for free. After that, it will cost you about five dollars a month. Or even less if you buy one year at a time. But I promise you that you will save so much more than the cost of the software and thst it will actually transform your knowledge about and your relationship with money.
Step Two Once: Start looking for Holes.
You have figured out for an entire month where your money is actually going and you have an accurate idea of how much money you have brought in that month, start to look for the holes.
I did this when my husband lost his job over a year ago and the results were incredible. Call your cell phone provider. Ask for a discount. Look at your electric bill and figure out if you have an extra refrigerator that’s running in your garage that doesn’t need to run. Figure out how many cable channels you really need.
This is an area my husband was not willing to give much and so OK we still compromised and got a little savings and moved on. Particularly if you live with someone else there will be compromises. Keep moving forward.
Save every penny that you can on expenses. Those will help you every month and your work on this will pay off long term. I managed to cut my car insurance by 1/3 of the cost because I was no longer working a corporate job and working from home meant fewer miles and less insurance. You’re an entrepreneur. Be creative. I know you can do this.
Once you have shaved off as many of the expenses as you can, you will have an accurate idea of whether you are in the hole every month or have money that you want to save. Important distinction.
Step Three: Start Paying it down!
Hopefully, the answer is that you have money left over at the end of the month to save, start paying down on your smallest credit card balance first. Some people recommend going after the highest interest-rate but right now you’re changing your habits and psychologically having the smallest credit card paid off will encourage you and set you off in the right direction.
Let’s say for example that you figure out you can pay $100 a month off your lowest credit card balance on top of the minimum payment you have already been making. You do that for however many months you need to and then you add that $100 plus the original minimum on that card plus whatever else you have figured out how to save and start paying off the second credit card.
It is called the snowball effect and is very well-documented. Not my original idea but effective.
Step Four: Set up an emergency savings account.
This can be instituted right from the beginning or now. You should have an emergency savings set aside. If you have been tracking with YNAB for long enough at this point you will have discovered some bills that you weren’t as aware of.
Maybe you pay your AAA roadside tow bill comes up once a year and oops you didn’t realize it was coming up this month. Maybe you pay your auto insurance quarterly and oops you didn’t budget for that but by using YNAB you will figure these things out.
Be gentle with yourself. For me loving to garden and improve our home are always areas of surprise so the home maintenance budget needed to increase or come from somewhere. Like another category. You decide your categories.
You will learn to save some extra money each month for the things that you love to do so that you are not surprised as often. For us, dental was a huge issue when totally unexpected my husband lost three teeth! $15,000 bill!!
Oh my gosh, but everybody is different and you will find that your own holes in your system will eventually get patched if not completely figured out. This process takes time. Kind of like growing a business. Be patient, flexible and willing to go where you see the road ahead.
Step Five: Make some decisions!
It’s time to make some major life decisions. Do I have debt? Yes, I have a lot of debt and I am paying it off. So my decision is to have two side jobs in addition to my business. It makes the process Faster.
Forgive me if I’m not always on social media but now you’ll know what I’m doing. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions and I’m happy to answer them.
Sending you tons of light and love.