Controlling debt can be a daunting task for many, leading to stress and depression. It all starts with money management and managing yourself as a consumer.
There is always that one ‘important’ that needs to be taken care of, although that which is deemed ‘important’ isn’t a necessity at the time.
How do you relieve yourself from reckless spending and consolidate your debt and spending?
You need to get your priorities straight. Yes, getting your priorities straight will help you in many ways financially.
The words ‘get your priorities straight’ sound ambiguous but they are magic to your financial health.
How you go about getting your priorities straight is what this article is all about.
You will need to put some effort into following this article as it will emancipate you from financial difficulties both today and in the future.
Ways to manage your debt
1. Calculate how much you owe and who you owe
Just like a company you need to have a list of people and companies that you owe. Have the totals, monthly repayments, dates on which amounts are due and creditor names.
It will be easy to do this on a spreadsheet as you can update it at any given time.
Having this spreadsheet will raise awareness of the obligations that you have and when you need to fulfil them. Your list must be kept updated all the time.
Don’t write a list that you will turn away from and forget about it. Always refer to the list when preparing your monthly budget and perpetually refer to your list.
You can use the 22seven app to keep track of your debts and income. 22seven consolidates all your bank accounts, store accounts, and other accounts to help you keep track of your finances. You can download the 22seven on the Google play store.
2. Create a monthly budget
You need to plan how you are going to pay your debt and cover your expenses, a budget will help you allocate debt and expenses.
Since you have a list of all the companies and people you owe, on your budget you will be able to apportion your income to different debts accordingly.
A budget need not be a monthly one, you can make it medium-term and stretch it for 3 months or more.
With a budget that is medium-term, you will be able to forecast your finances for a longer period.
You can also find that from your budget there is some money that is left after covering all expenses, this money can be channelled towards paying your debts.
Always be realistic when preparing your budget. Don’t include income that will potentially come. Work from the money that is guaranteed
If the potential income rolls in later on, you can use it in your next budget preparation.
3. Prepare a payment calendar on a monthly basis
You need to prepare a monthly payment calendar and revise it now and then. For those who earn weekly wages, you need to prioritize your debts using each wage you receive.
Say you earn R2000 per week, you need to break the R2000 apart and cover some of your debts, for example, paying jet R200 this week and paying Woolworths R300 next week.
Your monthly payment calendar will help you stay on track of the payments you need to make and when.
As a result, avoiding late payment penalties and additional administration costs.
4. Pay your bills before time
Avoid making late payments on your bills and pay on time. You can create debit orders to make sure that your expenses are paid when due.
When officiating debit orders, make sure that there is adequate cash flow in your account to cover the amount credited in your bank account.
Paying early will allow your credit score to keep increasing. A simple missed payment will affect your credit score in a bad way and it is something that you need to avoid.
With bad credit, you won’t be able to attain future credit.
5. If you don’t have the full amount then make a minimum payment
Can’t make full payment on the amount due for the month? Then pay a minimum deposit required. Paying a minimum amount required will help you be in good standing at the credit bureau.
Don’t ignore calls from the company that you owe, always answer their calls especially when you are owing.
If you don’t answer it will make matters worse and get you in more trouble at the credit bureau. Your account will also incur additional admin costs for trying to reach you.
Answer the call and negotiate for a minimum amount that you can pay immediately. Ask for a deferral for the remaining balance.
Missing payments is not good but sometimes it happens that you don’t have money to pay your debt.
Companies understand this so showing that you prioritize them will get you a chance to pay later.
Avoid missing payments when you have money because it is difficult to pay a debt when it piles up.
6. Have or create emergency funds and use them when necessary
Create an emergency fund and use it whenever needed to cover your debts. This fund is very important for your financial health in general, so mark it as a need.
There are many life drawbacks like retrenchment or illness, so you need something to fall back on when days are bad. An emergency fund is an answer as it will cover your immediate expenses and needs when times are tough.
When starting, start small and don’t overthink. You can start by having a savings account, deposit a small amount like R500 and increase the amount going forward.
You can choose from a number of good savings accounts that you find compatible with your saving plans.
This money is for your unforeseen events, so save your extra cash as frequent as possible.
We don’t know when we going to get financially distressed, therefore, the emergency fund comes in handy.
Debt can be stressful to manage but using the tips provided in this article, you can assume financial freedom.
It is might sound a bit difficult to plan using the methods provided as they require diligence, focus and being straightforward but they will help you reach your targets.
You can also make use of credit counselling agencies who will do all this for you. They will help with debt consolidation and settlement, leaving you happy without any stress.