The MoneyAware team chats with MoneySavingExpert.com about their downshift challenge, could you...
Finding the balance: ways to avoid debt
In a society where the latest tablet PC sells like hot cakes, it’s unsurprising that many people are getting into debt without even realising it. Whether you’re struggling to pay the bills or can’t seem to control your spending, being in the red is becoming an increasingly common issue.
Although debt worries might feel like being under a never-ending rain cloud, there are ways you can turn things around. To bring about a change, or to simply avoid the dreaded overdraft, we chatted with our friends at MyVoucherCodes to come up with some handy hints and tips on saving money this spring.
Do the maths
Surprisingly, one of the easiest ways people get into trouble is by being oblivious where money is going or even how much is coming in! The solution is pretty simple: sit down with a calculator and actually work out where you’re spending.
It might take time, and it might feel like a right drag – but much like clearing out your wardrobe or doing a spring clean – it will truly be worth it in the long run. Once things are clearer, you’ll be able to set yourself a monthly budget.
Cut back where you can
After pinpointing where your money is going, the next step is to search for ways you can reduce unnecessary spending. Of course, there are certain outgoings which will be fixed or permanent, but by using sites like MyVoucherCodes for cheap insurance or low-price deals on broadband, you might be able to massively cut back on preventable costs.
You might also be surprised at how much you usually spend without even thinking about it; from cappuccinos to cinema trips – if you’re the person who always says ‘yes’ to every invitation, try resisting once in a while.
Turn pennies into pounds
Whether your biggest money worries stem from bills or a lack of resistance to the fashion sales, it’s always helpful to save pennies wherever possible. And we mean pennies! By buying a jar and sticking in any lose change you could end up with enough to make a real difference.
If you live with a number of other people, you could also suggest buying a communal jar and splitting the total at the end of each month. That way, everyone can benefit from something which would otherwise be completely wasted!
Use credit wisely
If your credit card is worn out from all the stress and strain, perhaps it’s time you gave it a well-deserved rest. Although the trick with credit cards is to try and avoid them if you can’t pay the credit back, we know it’s not realistic to shun them entirely. Read our article about alternatives to credit cards, if you’re looking for ways to avoid using your flexible friend.
So, if you must use a credit card, make sure you have the funds in the bank to pay it off. As an alternative, invest in the pre-paid type; available from a number of banks or building societies, these cards work with the basic pay-as-you go principle, allowing you to have all the perks of a credit card without the danger of debt.
By taking just a bit more control over your spending, financial freedom could easily be yours. Although the aforementioned steps are simple – we also realise how easy they can be to put off – so just remember: once you’ve done the hard bit, the debt cloud will soon clear, leaving you with nothing but sunny and stress-free skies.