I was so happy many of you found my post about mindful spending helpful, and many of you wanted me to elaborate. If you are looking at getting your finances in order for 2020, the first step is to set up a plan to get out of debt. I try to remind you guys that sales aren’t a deal if you’re paying interest on a purchase you shouldn’t have been making. I know a lot of the holiday messaging is BUY BUY BUY but the happiest holiday moments are not brought to you by things that were bought.
HAVE AN END GOAL. For me, getting out of debt is a means to an end goal of living a slower, more relaxed life with more time and money to GIVE. Living generously (giving both more time and money) is my motivation to get out of debt. I hope to drive my 2004 SUV for another 10 years to get there sooner.
The photo above is a new holiday giving tradition my family started this year, an angel tree. I contacted our local Salvation Army who collaborates with a town social worker to collect holiday wishlists from local kids who are less fortunate. I took on 50 wishlists knowing that if none of my friends stepped up, we could handle it. We were blessed by so many friends and even social media followers (now new friends) who volunteered and shopped for kids from our angel tree. When finances feel tight, I always find this reminder helpful – “you will never become poor from giving“.
If you don’t have debt, you can skip this post. Most of us have it in some form, we are down to only mortgage debt. When you’re making a plan for tackling your debts go smallest to largest. We actually have two mortgages at the moment but one of our financial goals for 2020 is to sell our second property (a seasonal beach cottage).
GET OUT OF DEBT
Like I said before, you don’t want to be paying interest to Capital One (or any bank) to pay off your holiday(or any time of year) spending. I love the Dave Ramsey podcasts and he suggests cutting up your credit cards if you’re in debt. I track my business purchases on a credit card so I haven’t gotten this far yet, but we do use cash more for things like groceries. A lot of people will say “well, I pay off my credit card each month”….me too! But let me tell you, paying cash for groceries is pretty eye opening. Seeing $200 physical dollars leave my hand weighs a lot more on my mind than a quick swipe of my credit card. I don’t even look at the total sometimes when I use my credit card.
TIPS FOR TACKLING DEBT
- STOP SPENDING – duh? Easier said than done. I know most of us become accustomed to a certain lifestyle but financial stress is no joke. If you’re trying to keep up with someone else’s lifestyle at the expense of debt, the cost of the stress alone is not worth it. If you continue spending money you don’t have, interest will sprinkle fuel on your fire and your debt will keep growing larger. Less car, less house, less closet – where can you cut back? We just moved to a larger home but with the intent of being able to take my mom in when it’s no longer safe to live alone. Also as I mentioned above, we will be selling our second home as a means to cut back on our monthly expenses.
- SET UP A PLAN – go smallest to largest. Write down the amount of debt you have and where it’s coming from and immediately tackle that first one. Once you clear the first one you’ll see how good it feels to be closer to your goal. The second will be easier.
- LOOK AT YOUR MONTHLY SPENDING – where can you cut back? This is money you can reroute to your debts. For us, a big expense is eating out….so we cut back…which I don’t love. I try to keep my eye on our long term goals and we still eat out, just less than we did at other times in our lives. Maybe your debt is vacations, or clothing purchases – whatever it is, you don’t necessarily have to abandon your favorite things completely. Make an actionable plan to cut back. Set a monthly limit, or for vacations, set up a monthly savings plan to pay for the trip BEFORE you even start it. Same with holiday spending – prepare for expected expenses well ahead of them (like start saving in January for next holiday season).
- SELL THINGS – this was huge for me last year. We sold furniture, exercise equipments, and LOTS AND LOTS of clothes on Poshmark to pay off a small debt. Last year I made back over $6,000 selling items from my closet I was not longer wearing. Now that’s high, since I’m a fashion blogger, but survey your belongings and maybe there’s a way for you to make some side cash to pay down debt. My husband, who used to pride himself on extravagant purchases sold off lots of his gym equipment in order to fund the new gym items he was wanting.
- GET A SIDE INCOME – I started my blog in hopes of a side income so that I wouldn’t have to return to work full time as a nurse practitioner when Cam went to school. At the time I was working 20 hours a week. Now I blog full time, but for a couple years it was a side income for us. Starting a new business can be costly, so maybe just offer babysitting services, drive for uber eats, or find something on a smaller scale to start. Every bit helps!
NEXT POST – Mostly Budgets
For the sake of keeping these posts quick reads I’m doing a series of budget posts. Stay tuned for monthly budgets next. If you want to keep up with what’s going on on the blog, sign up for my free weekly newsletter (it comes out weekly on Saturday mornings) so you won’t miss a post.