When I was in Grade School, something happened to me that made me not want to borrow any more. I was forced by a relative to ask money from different people.
Since I was too young then, I followed out of fear. I borrowed money from classmates, from teachers, and even from strangers like security guards around the school.
I can still remember this one classmate of mine whom I borrowed P500 from. I can barely remember his name but I could somehow still remember his face. Every day, he would ask me when I will return the P500 I borrowed from him. But because I don’t have any money with me, I always tell him that I’d pay him soon. He would always ask me daily about the debt but I couldn’t face him. I tried avoiding him. I was too scared.
Until now, I have not paid him yet. And I am very sorry for what I have done to him. I was able to escape paying since I transferred to a different school the following year.
But that experience has taught me a lot. I don’t know if I have been traumatized by that event because now, I don’t want to borrow even a single centavo from someone. If I do borrow, even if it’s just a peso or a thousand pesos, I’d give it back right away.
That experience opened my eyes to the pain and stress that came with borrowing money that you cannot repay. I remembered myself being so nervous and anxious every time I recall that painful experience. I even remembered him telling me that he will already tell my teachers about it.
Though that experience was made out of fear, the feeling of being haunted by someone is something I will never want to experience again.
I hope that you’ll never put yourself in that situation. And I hope that if you’re in that situation now, give yourself a chance. Never allow your family or friends to suffer in the future because of the big debts you are carrying over your shoulders. Sooner or later, you’ll not be the only one who’ll get affected. Your family will be affected too even if you are doing it for them.
Since then, I have endeavored to be debt-free as much as possible.
Here now are my own personal tips on how to become Debt-Free:
1. Know your Budget
First, you must know how much you earn and how much you spend. You can’t practice spending below what you earn if you can’t identify where your money is going.
Here’s where budgeting comes in. It is very important for you to monitor your expenses by creating a budget plan. Write down how much you earn and how much your expenses are, then identify what should be lessened. If there’s a shortage (income<expense), then identify what expense eats up most of your income. Trim expenses that are unnecessary.
Your budget will show your spending habits. It will show how much you are spending on food, in travel, in movie tickets etc.
If you have a budget sheet, you could clearly be able to create ways of limiting certain expenses by assigning an amount to it every month when you receive your income.
This, of course, after you pay yourself first.
2. Pay Yourself First
Practice saving for yourself first. This means letting yourself get the first-fruits of your labor before restaurant owners, before friends, and before anything else.
There are many ways and formulas that people recommend in paying yourself first. But here’s a formula I like the most:
70% – expenses
20% – savings
10% – tithes/charity
You might want to create several JARS for your savings. One of them may perhaps be for your leisure.
If you can prepare for your expenses in advance by SAVING for it, then spending will be guilt-free.
3. Bring just ENOUGH cash every day
One way to resist impulse buying is to purposely bring less cash.
I practice this habit every day. Sometimes, I over-practice it. There have been times where I didn’t have any fare to pay to the Jeepney driver since the money that I have withdrawn earlier was not enough. Funny. But of course, I have my ATM Card with me for emergency purposes.
Lesser cash with you means lesser expense.
4. Avoid Credit
Here’s one major reason why people fall into debt: Credit cards. People think that credit cards are a sort of emergency fund. But from the word itself, it’s a credit. It means that you owe it from the credit card company. It is something that should be paid.
I have more than 1 credit card that I am using now, which have waived annual fees for life.
I just use my card if there’s a promotion or instant reward by spending a specific amount.
However, I don’t bring it on a daily basis. Paying in cash is better. Because if you pay in cash, you’ll really feel the money going out of your pocket. The money you worked hard for will suddenly be gone in an instant!
Nowadays, there are many ways to buy your tickets online or shop online without using a credit card. Many banks offer what we call a reloadable debit card that acts similarly as a Mastercard or Visa card.
With this type of card, your spending is still controlled by the amount of money you put in that card will just be the money that is allowed to be spent out from that card. Think of it as a prepaid credit card.
Ask your nearest bank about this.
5. Do not fall into Peer Pressure
We all have friends who like to travel, eat out, or watch movies from time to time. It’s okay! Of course, they are your friends. Activities like this make your bond stronger. However, if you don’t really have enough budget for it, then honestly say NO. They will understand because they are your friends, right?
6. Identify if it is a Need or a Want
Needs are those things you can’t live without. We all know this. But few people understand it.
For example, when I go shopping around in the mall, I do not buy anything unless it has been initially planned.
So if you went to the mall and got home with lots of shopping bags with you, I guess it was not a need but rather a want.
Impulse buying is a common habit for most millennials. If you can’t resist shopping, then don’t just go into the mall, especially if there’s a mall-wide sale.
Ask these questions before you buy something:
- Do I need it?
- Do I have the cash to pay for it?
- Have I compared the price elsewhere?
- Will its value increase or decrease over time?
- Will this help me in my long-term goal?
If any of the answers are NO, then think twice. Think overnight and sleep over it before you buy it.
7. Increase your Income
If you want to live a more comfortable life than what you are living now, then look for ways to increase your income to satisfy your cravings and luxuries in life instead of getting a credit and borrowing from a friend.
If you want to have an iPhone 6s or Samsung Galaxy Note 7, don’t go to a friend and loan from them just to join the fad.
Why not work hard and accumulate money while you are still single with no dependents?
If you don’t have enough money yet to pay for something that you really want, use that financial pressure to help you to become more creative in finding ways on how to get more money.
I know it’s hard to control yourself. It’s hard to resist your wants. But remember this, if you can’t have self-discipline, then you can never ever manage your money properly. As what Robert Kiyosaki said:
Self-discipline is the No. 1 delineating factor between the rich, the middle class, and the poor.
9. Simplify your Life
Maybe much of your debts or soon-to-be debts are things that are not really important. Someone said, “The man who never has money enough to pay his debts has too much of something else.”
Learn to enjoy the things you have and delight in simple pleasures. There are still many ways to enjoy life for free.
What is important are the moments you have with your family.
I do hope my article helps. Again, I know some of you have debts because of your love for your family. Just be careful. Don’t let it pile up. If you really love your family, you’ll let them know your situation and you’ll help each other to be debt-free.
When stuck in debt, the odds of getting out may sometimes seem impossible. It’s a very challenging and steep road. But just stick to the ways of cutting down debt and believe in yourself that you can do it. Remember that there’s always the sunshine beyond the clouds.
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
I would love to hear from YOU. =)
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