5 ways to manage your debt

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This weeks debt tip comes to you from desk of the beautiful Francesca at From Pennies to Pounds. Francesca helps young women take control of their money through budgeting, and shares ways of earning extra money that can be done from home around the kids, even with little spare time.  So read on for her tips on how to manage that post-Christmas debt or any debt in fact that you may have!

5 ways to manage your post-christmas debt

Christmas is an amazing time of the year, and so much fun!

But is it just me, or does the cost slowly creep up and up, until you have no idea how much you have actually spent?

There’s the wrapping paper, the cards, the presents – oh my the presents, the school nativity play, the school trips, Christmas jumper days, trips to see family and friends around the country, the Christmas tree, decorations, and don’t even get me started on the food.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement whilst reading this, don’t worry – you aren’t alone.

At the beginning of the year last year, around 7.9 million Britons said that they were going to be behind in their bills after overspending at Christmas.

37% of the UK said that they were going to put Christmas on the credit card, with the average amount of debt in the UK being £8000 per person. (Source)

When you’re paying off debt, you have less money for the things that truly matter to you. From personal experience, paying off your debt gives you a sense of freedom – like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.

With that in mind, I’ve put together some tips to help you pay off your post-Christmas debt:

Add Up All Of Your Debt

I know, it’s a pretty scary thought that you’re going to see it all written down in black and white – but that’s why you need to do it.

Putting this step off is not going to help anyone but the credit companies get more money off you in interest. Would you rather have your money, or them?

The debt is already there, it just needs to be written down, so that a plan of attack can be made against it.

Don’t worry though – once you start looking at it and working out how to get rid of it, the wheels will be set in motion and you’ll be on your way to living your best life ever.

A good place to start is to look at your online banking. Head to the section where your direct debits and standing orders are, as your monthly debt payments will be listed there.

Go through your paperwork, your emails, your bank statements – and write down all of the companies on there and the monthly payments you are making.

The next step will be to find out the interest rate, if the interest rate changes at any point, and how long you have left to pay on it.

If you aren’t sure about this, or can’t find your paperwork – give the credit companies a call and find out from them.

Try To Reduce The Interest Rates

Once you’ve found out the interest rates, it’s time to see if you can reduce them at all.

The interest is what makes debt so hard to pay off, and it’s so frustrating when you end up paying back way more than what you originally borrowed.

Believe it or not, the credit companies can be more helpful than you think, as they do want you to pay off your debt (although of course they want the interest from you).

So with that in mind, speak to them. Ring up your lenders, and tell them you are planning on paying down your debt and tell them that you want your interest rate reduced (tell them nicely, but still tell them. Don’t ask – tell).

It’s also worth looking at if you can get a 0% balance transfer. I did this when paying off my debt, and it made a huge difference. But please think about this carefully before going ahead with it.

The reason that I say to be a bit cautious is because getting a 0% balance is taking out a new line of credit.

Also, the 0% will run out after a certain amount of time, so this is also something that is worth checking. Will the new interest rate be higher than what you are currently paying, and will it mathematically make sense?

Money Saving Expert is a great resource for looking at the various 0% balance transfers that are available, and they will check if you will be eligible without a hard credit footprint.

Reduce Expenses

This may not sound like the most fun thing in the world to do, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as you may think – it can be really freeing, and show you which things you value.

It’s important to realise that this is temporary as well – this is just to help you pay off your debt and get back on track.

A great way to reduce expenses is to create a budget. When you are creating your budget, write down all of your expenses.

Look at your online banking under the direct debit/standing order section. This will show you your fixed expenses that always come out, such as mortgage/rent, utility bills, internet etc.

You can also go back through your bank statements and receipts to see the variable expenses each month – the expenses which vary in price. These could be your grocery shopping, petrol etc.

Once you’ve got all of your expenses up and together, it’s time to look at how they can be decreased.

A common mistake at this stage is to only look at the small expenses. I want you to look at all of them – as you can get some quick, big wins with the larger expenses.

Things like your mortgage – can you get a cheaper rate? With your utility bills – go on comparison websites, see which you can get for less, but with the same service.

Food shopping is an expense that is easy to reduce, even if you want to eat the same things, by good organisation.

Meal planning is a big help here, and it’s a lot quicker and easier than it sounds. Just make a list of everything that you usually eat (we all tend to generally eat the same meals over and over) and that’s the start of your meal plan.

Examples could be: chilli, pasta bake, pizza, steak and chips, burgers, chicken and rice, lasagna, risotto, curry and so on.

The benefits of writing it down and figuring out which meals you’ll be having each week (you can mix them up, they don’t have to be rigid), is that you know what you will need to buy.

Heading to the grocery shop without a plan means coming out with a lot of stuff, but not much for making meals out of!

No Spend Days

I am personally a big advocate of no spend challenges, because they can help to shake things up a bit.

It’s not about not spending any money – it’s about figuring out what is important to you, and noticing your habits and triggers.

A No Spend Day is a day where you don’t spend anything – apart from of course essential spendings such as paying your bills.

Unplanned things are banned – things that you get without really thinking about it, like some snacks from the corner shop, some clothes, impulse purchases on Amazon when you’re having a random browse.

We’ve all done it, but if you are determined to pay off your debt, this is something that will really, really help you.

The key to having a successful No Spend challenge is to be prepared. As much preparation and organisation as you can do!

Things such as making a packed lunch every day, taking snacks and water with you when you pop out anywhere (especially with the kids), meal plan, a schedule and routine that will let you know what you are doing that day.

If you end up spending money, please don’t just throw in the towel – it’s not about who is the best at not spending any money, but it’s to look at your habits and the triggers that are causing you to randomly overspend.

When you can see the things that cause you to spend your money on things you didn’t even want, you can then prepare ways to prevent this in the future. It’s all about becoming self-aware and working on new habits.

Earn Extra Money

So as we mentioned before, when it comes to budgeting, you ideally want to have more income, less expenses when it comes to tackling your debt (or just in general!).

Firstly, take a look at your current job. Is there any overtime that you can pick up? Speak to your manager and let them know that you are keen.

Could you get a second-job? I worked as an admin before at a company where we had an NHS cleaning contract, and there were always jobs coming up – early morning, late evening etc. It’s worth looking on Indeed and other job sites to see if there are any that you could fit in.

There are a bunch of other ways that you can make money, such as:

  • Pet sitting
  • Blogging
  • Selling your stuff
  • Re-selling on eBay or Amazon
  • Selling your creative makes on Etsy
  • Mystery shopping/dining

Earning extra money was a game changer for me when I paid off my debt. It allowed me to pay it off much quicker than I would have done without it, and introduced me to some great side hustles which I still continue today.

When it comes to paying off debt, it’s 100% possible to pay it all off, even if it seems like an intimidating number. You will have to put some work into it, but it will be worth it.

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As I’ve already mentioned Francesca helps young women over at frompenniestopounds.com to take control of their money through so many ways and encourages you on how to pay off debt and live the life of your dreams – the goal is more. More Money. More Time. More Living.

You can also find Francesca over at:Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

If you got value out of this or feel it would be something someone you know would love to read too then feel free to share or check out some of our other debt/budget related posts below:

6 steps we took to paying off £22k off debt

5 ways to manage your debt

Don’t borrow more to pay a credit card bill

Good Money by Nathalie Spencer review | How to understand your choices & boost your financial wellbeing

5 ways to have a debt free Christmas

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