The wind is blustery, the mornings are dark and snow is on the horizon. January is in full swing, and the credit card bills are hitting your postbox. Seriously, there is no emoji for this level of depression.
I often think it’s funny that January is the month in which most of us set our expectations for the year yet it’s so difficult to even make it through the month, let alone trying to live your best life. Obviously, it’s a chance for a fresh start, but you can get feel demotivated and overwhelmed fast.
When I started paying down my debt nearly six months ago, I started small, with the idea that we wanted to be debt-free within a year. I had no idea how to make that happen. I just knew I needed a plan. Quite frankly, my partner and I were scraping by for so long and I figured that we were obviously making a lot of mistakes with our finances and I needed to learn how to fix them. That’s why it was vital to start small, because chucking a large amount of money at our debt without really addressing the issue of where our money was going, or how much we could actually afford to overpay, was always going to lead to failure.
I started in July with the idea that we would pay £100 extra than the minimum towards our debt, and start August with a budget and a plan to pay off the rest.
As a result, we hit our £100 target and started August with a clear understanding that we could cut our grocery bill and household spends in half over the following months, based on the research we did. We realised how much we were impulse spending, and cut this out over time. Allowing ourselves to focus on a plan of action that gave us an accurate picture of our finances was the key to success.
Nearly six months in and our outgoings have reduced so much that we have went from having about £200 spare each month (in theory- we didn’t actually have this in our account at the end of the month but we never knew where it went) to more than £1,000. Most of this has been down to cutting down gradually on what we are spending, which takes time.
So if you need motivation to achieve your 2018 debt-freedom resolution, here’s what I suggest:
- Start small; for today, set an achievable target having a ‘No Spend Day’ (i.e. a day where you don’t spend unnecessarily)
- Allow yourself to build up to bigger targets, so for example, until the end of this month, you could set yourself the goal that you won’t add to your debt and you will start February with a brand new budget (my post that helps you draw up your budget is found here). This is how I started and I am halfway there- it works!
- Remember that you are only starting out. If your goal was to run a marathon, you’d give yourself plenty of time to train. Learning how to budget effectively takes time, and going from a debt mindframe to a debt-free mindframe has taken me months
- Let go of any negativity. If you’ve started the year with good intentions and got demotivated, forget it and move on. I’ve messed up a few times on my journey but if I started to get down about it, it would be so much harder to get back on the wagon. We are human, after all.
A year from now, you will wish you started today.
Good luck everyone x