Down with Debt
Debt is, quite frankly, shit. It has unfortunately become a massive part of our society – so much so that we’re actually pretty numb to it. How many times do adverts say “you deserve it” or credit card companies send out “good news” that your credit limit has been increased and we don’t even bat an eyelid. It used to make me feel proud that I was being “trusted” with higher levels of credit. Now these letters just irritate me.
Owing money is now sadly normal.
Well, I say its time we take a stand and say “NO MORE”!! I encourage everyone who reads this blog and has debt, to really dive deep into how they spend their money, and make a decent plan to get out of debt for good. I’m talking credit cards, store cards and loans, ESPECIALLY payday loans. Cut that shit out now!!
Equality pays is a website for people who are looking for help getting out of debt. There are some useful and interesting posts on there about becoming debt free, so why not start today and take a look?
Another resource you might find useful is my free e-book on paying off debt without compromising too much. Its the way I am paying off my debt, and I hope it works for you too.
Today’s post is all about some of the reasons why we get into debt in the first place, and a few tips for how you can help yourself. I hope you find this useful, and as always, do your research before taking action (but not so much that you never take action – you do have to start sometime!). Charities like the moneyadviceservice.co.uk and nationaldebtline.org are the best place to start to find out ALL your options.
It is very easy to become surrounded by debt. Not only is it bad for your own mental health, it can also have a huge impact on your family and the kind of life you want to lead. There are several routes into debt, but here are some common ones. Armed with this knowledge, you can put plans in place to avoid them ever causing you a problem.
If debt is seriously starting to cause you problems for your mental health, and you think you might be suffering from depression or anxiety, then make sure you get some help. The charities I have mentioned are a good start, but sometimes it also helps to talk to someone about the way it is affecting you too.
Probably the ultimate (and unavoidable) reason why people get into debt is because of unexpected life changes. Income fluctuations, job losses, and sickness can all cause the build up of debt, necessitating dipping into your savings or using a credit card to pay the bills. When life is going well, its hard to think about the bad times. But they do happen. You only have to sit in an A&E waiting room for a few hours to see that.
If you’re struggling to pay, but would be ok if you had some time, then why not ask for a payment holiday? This is a short period of time where you don’t pay anything off your debt at all and it also gives you the chance to take control of your situation before it gets too late. Obviously not every creditor is going to agree to this, but its best to alert them sooner rather than later so that a plan can be put in place.
If things are really bad, a debt recovery agency may be able to help, but speak to charities first before going down any route in case there’s a more suitable option for you.
(Lack of) Emergency Savings
If you have a small pot of money that you can call upon when something does go wrong, you may actually be able to stop yourself from accumulating too much debt.
Having £500-£1000 in a separate bank account will go a long way to pay for your car if it breaks down, or pay a plumber if your pipes burst. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how much you have put away, but it does matter if you don’t have anything. Emergency savings can make all of the difference to your life, and by saving a bit each month, you can make a huge difference to your life.
Saving money is a mindset issue – its about having the belief that you have “enough” to go around to meet your living expenses. If you really struggle with this, start small and build up. Don’t overstretch yourself to save though because this is counter-productive. Up to 10% of your monthly income would be a good aim.
If you want effortless savings, use a money pot and save all the £2 coins you get, or sell stuff to give your savings a boost. Plum is a great Facebook messenger service that helps you save every few days automatically.
Whatever you do, you have to stick with it.
Not Taking Into Account your Income
You may not see the point in looking at the price every single time you buy something, or you may even go out and buy big brands without any thought for your budget. The point is that if you are living luxuriously and then scraping by when the time comes for you to pay your bills, then you are not living within your means. You need to accept your income and live with what you have without making purchases you can’t afford.
Full confession time – I very nearly went against what my whole philosophy on debt. I recently fell for the marketing tactics of a large holiday company, and *nearly* paid just over £4,300 (on credit) to fund “luxury” accommodation for 5 weeks over the next 3 years. Luckily I came to my senses, and walked my talk by saying no.
It was a close call to say the least.
Why am I telling you this? Its because even the most money conscious of us can fall prey to clever marketing tactics. Can you image how successful these companies are when we’re not thinking consciously about our spending? From supermarkets to restaurants, their clever marketing bombards us EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Now I’m part of the blogging community, I can see how marketing is such a huge deal, ESPECIALLY to those who sell products. Influencers are “gifted” products to wear or use, in exchange for a positive testimonial or “exposure”. Put that product on a popular celebrity, and you have pure marketing gold.
Take Ugg boots for example. A little known set of boots that Australian surfers used to keep their feet warm after a surf in the 1970s, became phenomenally successful when endorsed by celebrities in America and the UK. This passage from The Telegraph describes it well:
“The queen of American media [Oprah Winfrey], had introduced Ugg Australia to her seven-million-strong daily audience in 2000 when she raved about the boots and bought 350 pairs for her staff. Retail pandemonium erupted.”
Now I don’t know if Oprah was paid for this or not, neither do I care. She’s an awesome woman and does spectacular work.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with being paid to endorse something, but it DOES matter if we choose to be swayed by it as the viewing public.
I’m sure you can think of numerous occasions though, where celebrity endorsement has made a product sell like crazy. Its so easy to fall for, making us spend money we don’t have, on stuff we don’t need.
I remember desperately wanting anything the Spice Girls endorsed – from Pepsi to Walkers Crisps and Impulse Spray.
(Now this ages me!!)
This post has aimed to bring to your attention the things that put us into debt. Sometimes its a series of unfortunate events, sometimes its spending too much. Whatever it is, getting out of it remains the same in all situations. The tactics change depending on how much debt you’re in, but the goal should be to”consciously uncouple” yourself from it like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.
So good luck on your debt free journey! Come and tell us how you’re getting on over in my private Facebook group!
This is (in parts) a contributed post. Full website T&Cs here.