Earlier this year, we brought you the first eleven of twelve steps toward living a debt-free life.
Is your debt shrinking? Have you gotten rid of one of your outstanding loans or lines of credit? Well, then it’s time to celebrate!
This year, we brought you through 12 steps you can take to reduce your debt and start saving. Steps included creating a budget, focusing on eliminating debt in a systematic way, considering starting a side hustle and putting any earned money toward debt, and more. Take the time, this month, to celebrate every small goal you’ve reached on your journey toward paying down debt.
Here's the catch: You don’t need to spend much to celebrate an achievement. Find inexpensive or even cost-free ways to reward yourself! This can be taking a day to yourself to watch movies and chill on the couch, take a hike, visit a (free) museum or something else you haven't given yourself the time to do this year. You certainly deserve celebrating, but you don't have to go into debt to do it!
As a quick review, here are the steps we covered this year. There's definitely no harm in starting back at #1 and working on getting rid of more debt, or just using the system to keep yourself on the right track going forward! (Some of the most popular resolutions are financial in nature, and we'll be sending you notes about that in the new year!)
• Step 1: Take stock of your debt by writing down exactly how much you owe to whom, plus information on payment amounts and interest rates. Put that information into a spreadsheet.
• Step 2: Assess your spending, and work hard on not incurring any more debt than you already have.
• Step 3: Call your credit card and loan companies and ask if you can have your interest rates lowered!
• Step 4: Create an emergency fund so that unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical bills don't completely derail your finances.
• Step 5: Organize your finances by really keeping track of every expense during the course of the month — from that morning latte to utility bills. It’s critical that you know where your money is going so you can get more control over it.
• Step 6: Trim your expenses by taking a look at the money you spend and figure out what you can cut — from subscriptions to take-out dinners. Put that money toward paying down your debt, instead.
• Step 7: Start paying down more debt using the "snowball" method.
• Step 8: Find ways to make more money — and throw it at your debt, too!
• Step 9: When you get an unexpected windfall, consider your options carefully about saving that money or putting it toward debt before you do anything else with it.
• Step 10: Put your savings on auto-pilot by setting up automatic transfers from your paycheck to your savings account, retirement fund and vacation fund.
• Step 11: Put your savings on auto-pilot by setting up automatic transfers from your paycheck to your savings account, retirement fund and vacation fund.
• Step 12: Celebrate, reassess, and make some New Year's resolutions!
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