Old sayings tend to become old sayings because they have a basis in fact. One of the most pervasive ones is that human beings are creatures of habit. The number of things we do seemingly without thought would boggle the mind if we were to ever stop and think about them.
In other words, our habits rule our lives. Fortunately, they can be changed. However, we must be willing to make the effort to change — and know what needs to be changed as well.
With that in mind, adopting these four habits will help you eliminate debt.
1. Maintain a Spending Plan
It’s tough to achieve a goal without a well-defined plan. Yes, you might get lucky and hit it by accident, but more often than not you’ll get pulled off track, and your goal will be relegated to a backburner.
A carefully crafted spending plan allocates your income toward the areas capable of returning the most significant benefit — getting rid of your debt. You can also plan for big purchases to help you avoid putting them on credit. One caveat: As you’re crafting the plan, leave some room in it for modest forms of entertainment so you can enjoy life, even as you work towards eliminating your debt.
2. Be Smart About Wants vs. Needs
We live in a consumer-driven society. As such, there will always be something to want. Regardless of what you have and how great it was when you got it, there will soon be something better. Within days of getting an iPhone 11, you’ll see articles touting the advantages of iPhone 12.
The key is to know when what you have is good enough. This helps you curtail non-essential spending and will allow you to free up cash to go towards debt repayment instead. Granted, when you need something, you need it — but avoid letting marketing pitches lead you to confuse wants with needs.
3. Pay Cash Whenever Possible
The more debt you create, the longer owing others will be a factor in your life. Credit cards make debt creation easy to accomplish. After all, you can just show someone a piece of plastic and get pretty much whatever you want.
Of course, the other side of that is the bill will come due eventually and you’ll need to figure something out, whether it’s paying them in full every month (highly recommended), paying them down bit by bit, or some form of debt resolution.
Paying cash whenever possible will help you minimize new debt while you pay off the obligations to which you’ve already committed.
4. Live Within Your Means
OK, so your next-door neighbor just got a nice truck. And, given his observed proclivities, you know it’s just a matter of time until he’s customized it with a lift kit, new tires and wheels, dark tinted windows and a killer audio system.
Jealous, you go take out a loan for a new car so he has something about you to envy. The thing is, he’s a single guy with no bills and you’re married with two kids and a mortgage. Even with that new toy, he’s living well within his means, while you’ve stretched your finances to buy a car you didn’t need — just to soothe your ego.
Performed habitually, these four habits will help you eliminate debt. Planning your purchases makes it easier to transact them in cash. Learning to focus on your needs rather than your wants will help you get more satisfaction from the things you already own. This, in turn, makes it easier to live within your means.