It’s written in the stars (well in a sentence ) that personal finance is indeed personal. With that being said, there are so many tips out there that may or may not fit your circumstances, but doesn’t mean that you can’t reach your goal if you do some things differently.
Think of it this way: there are many ingredients you can add to your sandwich, but at the end of the day it’s meant to be consumed. The only difference is that you have some ingredients that others may not like but for you it’s great (corny example right? Lol but I’m sure you get it.)
Having started this journey 2 years ago, I wanted to share a few tips that are common, but that I did not follow myself.
So without further ado, here they are:
1. Carrying Cash
This is super helpful if you have difficulties managing your money on plastic (debit or credit) thus blowing your budget. For instance, if you know that this month you should not spend more than $50 on entertainment, you would withdraw $50 for that night out with friends. By doing this, it’s like you are telling your brain to stick within its limits. It lowers the temptation to overspend. With cash, you have the physical limit in your hand and if it runs out, it’s done; you can’t spend anymore.
Honestly, I did that in the earlier stages but didn’t keep that habit for long. Overspending on my cards was something I rarely did so I didn’t need to find a way to prevent it. I still carry cash today, but that’s if I’m going somewhere that only accepts cash so you’re left with no choice to use an ATM. I avoid most ATM’s because they require you to pay a fee to withdraw your money. I’m not a fan of paying a couple of dollars to withdraw MY money!
2. I Didn’t Have A Side Hustle
While I was paying off debt, I did not start a side hustle. I know plenty of folks who started some pretty cool businesses or side gigs to generate extra income that they then used to pay off debt, etc. however I didn’t.
Why didn’t I start one? Well, I was chicken lol (that’s the short reason why). I didn’t have a “good” idea (so I believed) and the thought of having a business was nerve-racking. As I’ve shared in my debt payoff posts, I opted to look for a better paying job. I knew I could use my skill sets and the fact that I speak multiple languages to my advantage. This idea worked out. The job I got added around $700 extra per month in my pocket, which was good enough for me to reach my goal.
If I could do it over again, I would have found a better job AND have a side hustle!
3. I Did Not Consolidate My Debts
Debt consolidation is when you take out a new loan to pay off all the current debts you have. Essentially, all your debts are combined under one interest rate. What happens is that once you find a favourable loan condition, you transfer everything you owe to that loan. It’s a strategy used if one has difficulty repaying multiple debts with different balances and interest rates at the same time.
Consolidations can be done through banks and credit unions, although there are private companies that offer consolidation too. I didn’t consider consolidating my debts at all. I had 2 debts to pay off, but they came one after the other.
To explain it briefly, when I graduated, I had the 6 months grace period for my student loans, however, I was still making required payments for my car. The lease wasn’t done yet so my payments were fairly low. When my student loan grace period ended, I was now paying back the loan but also my car lease. A few months into paying off debt, my lease ended and the monthly payment was higher since I decided to keep it. I continued paying off both debts but focused more on my student loans first. By that time, I had a hang of my payments as I created a plan that I followed thoroughly and I wasn’t overwhelmed by my debts anymore.
Honestly, I can’t tell you to consolidate or not consolidate your debts. That is ultimately your choice (plus I’m not a financial advisor!). What I would advise is that you check out the pros and the cons of debt consolidation. That way you are making informed decisions.
4. I Did Not Sell My Car
I guess you’ve gathered by the previous point that I did not sell my car. It wasn’t expensive per se – ok well $23 000 is not little; though it’s cheap where new cars are concerned. I had it for over 3 years prior to my debt-free journey so there was no point (at least to me) to sell my car to get a used vehicle or to take transit.
Instead, I choose to keep my car which is why I had $29 000 worth of debt. I don’t regret this choice as I plan to keep this vehicle for several more years (you know the saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!). Looking back, if my car was over $40 000, I would have considered selling it to get a cheaper car because it would have taken me more than a year to pay off everything. I was adamant to become debt-free in a year frame so the car would have to go lol.
5. I Did Not Invest
While I was paying off my debts, I did not invest my money at all. Why? I was still learning about investing plus it didn’t make sense for me to do so when I didn’t have the recommended “3 to 6 months of emergency savings”. The most I had in my emergency funds was $2000, which was before my student loans were due.
As the months went by, my emergency fund usually stayed around the $1000 mark (having a car ain’t cheap lol check out this post).
You can pay off debt and invest at the same time if you’re comfortable doing so. However, keep in mind that investing is for the long-term; it’s for “future you”. Whereas having an emergency savings fund is for the short-term and as the name suggests it: for emergencies. Life happens. I’m not wishing anything bad on anyone, but please have money saved aside for whatever. You may need to repair something that costs $400 and if you have an emergency fund with $500 (hypothetically speaking), you would be able to cover the cost of this repair without going further into debt.
So saving money is still necessary even if you decide to invest or not invest while paying off debt!
To conclude, while paying off debt I did not carry cash, I didn’t have a side hustle, I didn’t consolidate my debts, I didn’t sell my car nor did I invest money. These are things that worked for others but it would not be a good fit for me.
What did you do/are doing to pay off your debts? Let me know in the comments or you can send me a personal message! If you’d like to learn more about money management and create a personalized plan for your debt payoff please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org! 🙂
All the best,