Are you trying to stay on top of your debt, but don’t feel like you’re making a significant reduction in your overall debt? Millions of Americans face some amount of debt, and while some of it is manageable and easy to pay off, others consider bankruptcy and other debt solutions.
One of the many ways to consider tackling your debt a little easier is by giving your personal budget a makeover. Here are some tips to help you out.
Track Everything Coming In and Going Out
Many people think that they have a good idea of where their money goes and how much comes in every week, but there are often small expenses that get overlooked. Some people think that if they have a general idea of how much money is in their account, that’s good enough.
While knowing a ballpark figure of how much money you have is better than being completely in the dark, but if you have debt, it’s important to track money that comes in and goes out. Tracking your income and expenses is easy enough to do with a spreadsheet. It might take a little time to get set up, but it’s worth the time and effort. Once you have a way to track your money, make it part of your daily or weekly routine.
After you’ve made a list of all of your expenses, from the money you spend at the gas pump or on a daily latte to a student loan payment, it’s time to see if you can make some cuts to your personal budget.
Cutting expenses can be difficult, especially if you already feel like you’ve cut out most of your “luxuries.” Take a look at all of the things that you infrequently use, like a gym membership or streaming services. Consider no-cost alternatives like free online workout programs or sharing login information with a family or close friend for a streaming service.
Rather than treating yourself to a daily latte from your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, set aside an allowance for once a week or even a few times a month. You may be surprised how much money you end up saving.
Set Financial Goals
Improving your finances and paying off debt is similar to setting and meeting other personal goals. Writing down your financial goals may help you be more accountable for your spending. Start with small weekly goals or your financial goal for the year. Make the goal reasonable and doable.
Do More, Spend Less
Many people who are struggling with debt have stress and may often end up spending money they don’t have to deal with their stress. Rather than spending money by going shopping or eating at a restaurant, do things that are fulfilling and cost little to nothing.
Rather than spending a half hour at the gym, go on a 30-minute walk in your neighborhood. Instead of going out to dinner with friends on the weekend, host a potluck dinner. Looking for housewares or clothes? Rather than buying new, check out local swap groups or visit your secondhand store.
Be Patient With Yourself
Personal budgets are rarely transformed overnight, but even the smallest changes can make a significant difference. Be patient with yourself and don’t feel bad when you spend beyond your budget one week, just adjust for less the following week.
With a little hard work and mindful spending, you can improve your personal budget and reduce your debt.