Well, let’s get started

So this is my first day of being a blogger! It’s great to have an outlet for your thoughts and feelings, and personal finance has become important to me in the past few years, for a range of reasons (which I’ll go into another time!).

However, I think I might have something useful to offer anyone who is out there – like I was – looking to find out if other people were in the same boat as me. If you look at those around you, it does tend to feel like everybody has so much more than you. But I’ve learned that it’s not as simple as that. A lot of them just have high debt levels and are comfortable with that – I’ve learned that I’m not! Now, that might sound funny coming from someone who states that her aim is to buy a house (and mostly using a home loan, of course). But I’m talking about personal debt, the gift that just doesn’t keep on giving :).  I have done a budget for a few years now, and for the most part we stick to it (it gets easier, especially when you build in the things you want from the start!). But I HATE putting that money away each week for a credit card or personal loan. My car is old and I don’t even remember what I bought with the credit card, but the debt is still there. Notice I said credit card, not CARDS. This is going to be the focus of one of my upcoming posts. If you have to have a credit card, and I would say most of us seem to, having just one is enough for most people, especially those whose focus for the next few years is debt reduction.

But anyway, I’m crapping on a bit again! Needless to say, I think I have something to offer. Over time, I’ll share more personal information, but for now I’m going to be a chicken and stay anonymous!

Over the past 3 months, I’ve been able to wipe $1500 in credit card debt. That’s on one wage. We have lived pretty simply to do this, and part of the reason is because we’re living with my father-in-law. But I think most people could free up at least $100 a week  to reduce debt – with little or no impact on lifestyle. I know that other personal finance bloggers would agree. Over time, I will discuss this.

These are my biggest tips:

1)  Pay at least double your minimum credit card repayment each month – in many cases it would take up to 10 years to repay credit card debt at the minimum payment level, and that’s even when people aren’t adding to it!

2) Look seriously at your bank fees. I reduced our monthly bank fees from $60 a month to $5 just by ringing my bank and asking them which account structure would suit me best/better. I know this can be a pain (and you’re groaning inwardly) but that’s $55 a month more in our pocket  – movie tickets for two with coffee &  cake, anyone?

3) Ask your credit card company to reduce your interest rate. You might have to tell them you want to close the account, but they’ll almost definitely offer you a deal. Don’t be put off by an initial response  of “no, we don’t do that”. Just say you’d like to speak to someone about closing the account, then (once transferred) explain that you’re really trying to get on top of  your debt and you have been offered an X% rate on balance transfers from X company (research it and find a real such offer). When I called my company and said I was having trouble meeting all my commitments (I wasn’t really!), my company reduced the rate from 12.99% to 5.99% for 3 months, and the guy on the phone advised me to call back after 3 months and see what else they could do for me 🙂 !

4) Cut back but don’t start by being too frugal – if you have a facial every fortnight, could you stretch it out to once every three weeks, or every month? Or could you go out one night a week, instead of two? Make sure you still have things to look forward to and build them into your budget. Don’t ignore them and then blow your budget when you inevitably do get your hair coloured.

5) Try to see the bigger picture. Even an improvement in your finances can yield massive gains. Thinking twice before buying is a good thing, and if you can come up with something that at least means you aren’t further in personal debt this time next year, isn’t that a great start? You might even get excited about budgeting …. eventually … well, maybe not 😉 !

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1 Comment »

  1. […] first post and I have to say, it was was very uncharacteristic for my style since. You can read it here. I basically set out my intentions for the blog and for debt reduction before settling into a list […]

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