Financial freedom is something that everyone aspires to accomplish. Of course it has a different meaning to everyone. But for the most part we all want to be able to pay our bills, have some fun and live a money worries free life.
Yet having more month at the end of the money is a place that too many of us know too well. We have become a nation of big borrowers and big spenders and worry about paying it back later (er’s).
I used to avoid the letters that came through the door as if the problem would somehow disappear.
According to the guardian the average UK household debt now stands at a record £15,400! To credit card firms, banks and other lenders.
In this article I will outline a few steps I have learnt that have been helping me better my finances. These steps have set me on a great path to financial freedom.
1. Understanding where you are and where you want to go.
For a long time I kept my financial situation in a small box, in the back of my mind with the label ‘please ignore’. The letter’s piled up and the interest kept coming. I convinced myself that ignoring it would make it go away. I was very wrong! Ask me how I found out I was very wrong? A knock on the door one Saturday morning…
Two men introduced themselves and began their rehearsed speech about me owing money. They let me know that they are here to come and collect. This was not good! They wanted money I didn’t have otherwise they would take my precious stuff to make up the difference.
After putting aside my pride and pleading with the men for about 15 minutes they went into phase two. Good cop, bad cop. One kept his stern demeanour. The other took a deep breath as if playing that bad cop character was a weight on his shoulders.
His body slouched and his voice relaxed. He said (as his partner looked down pretending to read that piece of paper on the clipboard).
“Look, we’re pretty reasonable guys, how much do you think you can get today?”. “We’ll let you get that amount, I’ll give you a call later and you can pay on the phone then we’ll give you two weeks to get the rest”.
This was a scenario that I found myself in more than once! and it was not a place I wanted to see myself in again. Something had to change.
It was time to open that box!
1 — Write down your income, Active and passive (if you have any).
2 — Write down all your monthly expenses. (Include how much you put away into savings).
3 — Write down all your debt.
2. Make the calls.
Believe it or not, a lot of companies you owe money to are actually willing to compromise with you. As long as they get their money! They will be willing to agree on a sum that you can afford to pay on a monthly basis. This will do a lot of good for your situation. As long as you are willing to make those calls and have those difficult conversations.
3. Throw snowballs!
Dave Ramsey coined The snowball method (I think). The snowball effect is a process in which you organise your debts from smallest to largest. Then pay them off from top to bottom. This has obvious practical benefits such as having more money to pay the larger ones when you get to them. It also gives you a confidence boost seeing the debts you are paying off. See the steps below from the man himself.
1: List your debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rate.
2: Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest.
3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest debt.
4: Repeat until each debt is paid in full.
These steps are helping me improve my financial situation and has also helped me live a stress free life! (Keeping those pesky bailiffs off my back).
Financial freedom is a marathon and debt is the first thing that should be tackled. Trying to save while you’re in debt is like trying to build a boat in water, It will just keep sinking.