There are myriad ways to combat debt and for the most part they appear initially to be rather serious and require a great deal of effort and financial control to organise and adhere to.
The following is a list of suggestions that attack the matter in slightly less conventional ways than ‘creating a budget plan’, ‘consolidating your loans’ or ‘applying for an IVA’.
See if you can have some fun with your saving instead and beat off those debt blues while still putting a smile on your face.
If you’re rattling around your usual four walls then maybe it’s time to think about downsizing? Not only could you release a large sum of capital from the equity of your home but also this could offer you a brand new adventure living somewhere completely new. A change of scenery could be just the thing.
Get a roommate
Or if you got the space but love your home then earn some extra cash by letting a spare room to a student or Airbnb’ing it? That extra income could be paying your monthly credit card bill.
Run yourself rich!
Instead of each time you’re about to head for the gym — stop! Put on your sports kit and head for the hills instead. Running through the country or along the beach is absolutely free of charge where your gym fees aren’t. In fact, gym fees are one of the most wasted expenditures in so many people’s budgets. We all have the best intentions in early January but you’d be surprised (or perhaps you wouldn’t) by the amount of new fitness fanatics who have given up going within the first six months and yet are still paying the fees. Even at a low rate of £20 a month that’s £240 a year you could be saving.
Cycle yourself back into the black
Ditch the car and cycle to work. Running a car is a very expensive commodity if you don’t have to and the additional benefits to your health from cycling are excellent (as long as you manage to stay on two wheels and not end up in a hedge). £10 per week on petrol is £520 a year. Put that with the savings from your gym money and you’re heading towards your first thousand!
It’s only a cup of coffee!
If you only bought one cup of coffee a day from a coffee shop or chain you’d still be spending over £900 a year on getting those eyes open on a morning. We’re not saying you’re not allowed a treat but that’s nearly £1000! On coffee! And that’s without the cake on the side or the overpriced bagel…
Eat yourself out of debt
Ok, so we’ve covered the nations favourite drink (well, apart from alcohol but we’ll get to that soon enough) now let’s get to how we eat.
If you learn to cook and eat sensibly by making better buying choices with fresh groceries instead of ready meals and pre-prepared foods you could be saving a bundle. One social experiment involved a family cutting their weekly food spend by nearly a half!
And what about lunch? Stop nipping to M&S for a sandwich and a smoothie, if you bring your own freshly prepared packed lunch to work you can be making more staggering savings without sacrificing the goodness.
Social life suicide
Just because meeting up with your friends used to mean a trip to a restaurant or a big night out on the town it doesn’t mean you have to ditch your friends to save that money.
Why not all pitch together and throw an Indian dinner party at home? Or a Chinese banquet? Even a Mexican mix-up won’t break the bank given basically it’s mostly minced beef, some vegetables, sour cream, salsa and a few tortillas.
In the States they call it a Potluck dinner and it’s a popular way of everyone getting together. It splits the cost, it’s a lot cheaper than going out, and you don’t have to skimp on the alcohol if you don’t want to.
The after work pint and or a tray of cocktails is a great way to let off steam but it will also ring up those precious pounds in no time. 5 pints a week, whether you drink them all at once or not, will cost nearly £1000 a year. If you like a drink then that number is going to double on Saturday night and then again on a Sunday afternoon watching the football ‘down the pub’.
Instead, why not arrange to have a few beers at a friend’s house or sinking a few somewhere neutral that you’ve bought from an off-licence? Take-away beers are going to cost about a third of the price.
Still with the demon drink; what if you replaced that bottle of wine after work with mocktail or healthy alternative? As few as two bottles of wine a week will add up to over £750 a year.
Make a game of it
There are masses of budgeting and finance apps for mobile phones now. You can enter all your income streams and outgoings to work out a proper budget and start clearing your debt and saving money. We love our phones so much and treating it as a game could be the difference between loving and loathing checking your finance figures.
Buying on impulse is how great in-store marketing works but if you can take a breath and a step back you’ll be able to find exactly the same product at a cheaper price if you do a little research when you get home. Online deals are plentiful and easy to find. eBay used to be a second hand sellers dream but now it’s grown into a mass-market of high-street and cottage industry businesses alike, all competing with the big boys with a fraction of the costs.
What did you have to do to earn what you spend?
One way to cut down on luxury or impulse spends is to work out what you had to do to pay for them. If you’re earning £10 an hour you’d have to work 20 minutes to buy that new e-book for your Kindle, but those Christian Louboutin shoes at £495 could have taken a whole week’s wages to pay for.
If you love your job — and those shoes that much, then no problem! But if you struggle to drag yourself to the office day in day out, was it really worth it? Working out the cost of your spend to that of your soul could just about put an end to some of your more frivolous purchases.
And the rest…
You could ditch the branded food items, or start making gifts to give as Christmas and birthday presents. Perhaps you can turn the same creative skills into a hobby that makes money by selling your art and crafts? Drop the extra TV subscriptions, collect coupons and online offer codes, or juggle the babysitting with the other mums to help each other out and save on fees.
There’s plenty of ways to replace the things we’ve got used to having purely through habit instead of necessity, and with a little careful thought we could be saving thousands of pounds without losing out on all the fun.
Go be creative with your money saving ideas — and ditch that debt.