Sunday, January 18, 2015

Want to Get Out of Debt Use a Budget

Many people continually complain about being in debt but when you ask do you have a budget, do you know how much you owe, or when you suggest they cut back on expenses they look like a deer in headlights or they just plain out refuse.  I am always amazed at this, how can you ever get out of debt if you don’t change your mindset, if you aren’t willing to work hard and make sacrifices.  There is no quick fix or cure all to get out of debt.  It takes a long time to get in debt and you will not get out of debt overnight. 

Many people do not know how to create a budget for themselves and many don’t even know where to start. Luckily learned at an early age how to create a budget for myself.  I knew how much money I spent and how much I had left.  This skill helped me when I became an adult and got into debt.   

The first step to getting out of debt is creating a budget.  The basic premise for creating a budget is to know what you have coming in and what you have going out. Track everything you spend money on, cigarettes, candy, bubble gum, etc.  Make the budget flexible so you have room for unexpected expenses such as house repairs or car repairs. If you don't have an emergency fund or savings to cover these expenses you can readily see in your budget what areas you can reduce expenses to get money to pay for those unexpected expenses.

Most people don't think about how much money they spend per week or per month but when you see all of your expenses written down it provides awareness of your spending habits. A budget and being in debt go hand in hand. Most people who don’t have a budget or don’t stick to it are in debt. Most people in debt don’t have a budget.  A budget is the first step to help you get out of debt. A budget will help you to determine if you have any money left over to pay down debt. If you don’t here are 20 ways to help you create a budget and pay off debt:

  1. Admit that you have a problem and do something about it.
  2. Take accountability for your actions. Don't blame others for your financial situation.
  3. You have to know where you are before you can get to where you want to go. A budget will help you determine – what you spend, what you earn and what you owe.  
  4. Use pen and paper, use a software tool like Quicken or Microsoft Money, a smartphone app or use the envelope method to track you spending daily, weekly or monthly. Once you visually see where you are spending your money it will make it easier to reduce spending.
  5. Automate. Use online bill payment to pay bills.  Most banks also offer online budget tools to help you track your spending.
  6. Notify. Set email or text alerts to let you know if you bank account balance is low and to notify you when bills are due.
  7. Write down a list of all of your debts.  Set a payoff date and develop an action plan and beside each debt write down steps on how you can pay the debt off: reduce spending, use coupons, use money savings tips, earn extra income, etc.
  8. Pay off small bills first. Focus on late payments such as collection accounts, judgments, liens or repossession first, next focus on paying off credit card debt, then focus on paying off loans.
  9. Plan. Setup payment plans and negotiate with creditors to pay off debt.
  10. Support. Surround yourself with at least three people who are doing better financially and gain financial advice from them.
  11. Seek professional help. Get professional help if you are unable to create a budget on your own.
  12. Needs vs. Wants. Buy more needs vs. wants to help reduce spending. Needs are food, clothing and shelter, everything else is a want.
  13. Reduce spending. Buy in bulk, on sale, at discount stores, online or use coupons, buy generic brands.  Try websites such as,,, or to find bargains. Reduce spending by 30%.
  14. Groceries. Don’t go shopping when you are hungry, buy items on the lower shelves and ask about specials, join store clubs to get alerts on discounts.
  15. Banking. Open accounts with little to no fees, ask about discounts and specials, and establish a relationship with the branch manager to get alerts about specials and new products and services that could save you money. Avoid using check cashing stores; cashing checks at the liquor store, payday loans or cash advances.
  16. Driving. Buy gas in the morning, combine nearby trips on the same day, keep the trunk empty, get regular maintenance on your car, search for the cheapest priced gas and buy a gas efficient car.  Drive the speed limit to also save money on gas.
  17. Medical. Buy at least basic medical insurance for you and your family, get a prescription card and fill prescriptions at discounts stores such as Wal-Mart or Walgreens to save money, negotiate medical services to save money and ask about programs for uninsured or low-income patients.
  18. Insurance. Buy insurance for health, life, disability and your home.  Buy bundled services to save money, buy homeowners and car insurance with the same company and ask about discounts.
  19. Compare. Comparison shop before making a purchase to get the best deal.  Use sites like,,
  20. Clothing. Shop at discount stores, buy clothes in off-season, check out discount racks at stores and ask if stores if they honor competitor coupons. Buy a few jackets and mix and match pieces to stretch your wardrobe.

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