If you’re one of the thousands of Australians currently dealing with financial stress and are worrying about how to make ends meet, you’re not alone. No matter how tight your situation is, there are solutions available to help you overcome your money problems and regain control of your life.
Here are seven ways you can get your financial health on track and release yourself from the burden of money worries.
Tracking your income and outgoing expenses is the first step in taking control of your finances and reducing stress. When you know what budget you’re working with – even if it’s not much – you can map out how you are going to pay your debts and still afford necessities.
Start by looking at what goes into your bank account each payday and then very honestly analyse what your outgoings are each week, listing everything as accurately as you can according to categories such as:
Break down larger bills that come out quarterly – such as electricity – to work out how much you need to set aside each payday.
Once you know what you have to work with, write a very definitive plan that is realistic enough to stick to. Many money-savvy people choose to create what’s known as ‘bucket accounts’. This is a system where separate, yet linked accounts are created for different needs. E.g an individual may have four linked accounts called: spending, rent/mortgage, bills and emergency fund. You only use what’s in those accounts for the purpose they were created for, helping to alleviate the stress of calculating in your head how much you’re “allowed” to spend before chipping into your bill or debt payments.
Consider auto-withdrawal accounts for debts and bills
Many money experts agree that setting up auto withdrawals for debts and bills can help make your budget easier to stick to as you won’t have the option to spend it before it goes out again. Just be sure to have calendar alerts set up on your phone or have a wall diary with the dates for withdrawal mapped out so that there aren’t any nasty surprises when things are due.
Identify what you don’t need
During the budgeting process, you may find that you have grossly underestimated how much money goes on convenience items instead of necessities. Having a budget for basic requirements like groceries helps, but there are many things that we splurge on which can easily be cut from your daily spend entirely. Here are some of the common conveniences that you should cut back on if you want to reduce your money worries:
- Takeaway coffee – you can easily save $25 a week by making your own coffee at home
- Food delivery apps – avoid takeaway and food delivery apps at all costs
- Petrol – if you can walk or take the bus, cycle or take the bus, do it!
- Expensive gym memberships – there are plenty of online platforms that can help keep you in shape for a fraction of the cost of the gym
- Brand name groceries – switching to home brand or bulk buy items can save you thousands over the year
- Smoking and drinking – high taxes on these products make quitting or cutting back one of the best things you can do for your hip pocket
On top of seeing what you can cut back on, think about items around the house that you can sell. You’d be amazed at what you can earn from items like sporting equipment, clothing, furniture, kids toys and electronics that are laying around the house. Try using a site like Gumtree or holding a garage sale. If you are under serious financial strain and live somewhere with adequate public transportation options it may be advisable to sell your car so that you can use the money to pay your debts and save on insurance, petrol, tolls and parking costs.
If you speak to a financial advisor, you need to be realistic about what they can achieve in a small time. You may not be able to make a $500 saving every pay cycle, but may easily manage five $100 savings over five pay cycles. Stay positive and know that just by chipping away at debts and slowly regaining control of your finances you are moving in the right direction, which will have an added psychological benefit of easing some of your stress. Accepting that you have to make some lifestyle changes and sacrifices is part of this process and essential to your long term happiness.
Get out of debt
Paying off your debts manageably has to be your number one priority when dealing with financial stress. Having debt collectors or companies on your back is one of the most stressful situations that an individual or family can go through, so you need to do everything you can to avoid this situation. Speaking to a professional who can help you negotiate a payment plan is a great way to get the support you need to get your head back above water. Remember, communication is key and many businesses will happily organise a payment plan if you are in financial distress.
If you have a credit card, this is the time to chop it up and look at consolidating any amount owing on it. If your debt isn’t critical and you are simply paying off a big asset like a house or car, aiming to pay a little more than the minimum requirements each month or consolidating your debts will be your best option for feeling more in control of your situation.
Create an emergency fund
Knowing there is money in the bank to fall back on if an emergency arises will play a huge role in your psychological state and ease much of the stress you are experiencing. The good news is that even if you are in debt, starting with small deposits, such as $10-$100 a month is all you need to start, and you can increase your deposits as you go along. It may feel like a pipedream right now but aim to eventually always have 3-6 months living expenses set aside. Choosing a high interest bank account can help, as they allow your emergency fund to sit there and make you money through interest without you having to lift a finger.
Be positive and look to the future
Once you have your debts paid off it’s time to start really thinking about the future. Rather than instantly returning to bad habits, use the money that you’ve been putting towards your debts each payday to either invest in something or start a serious savings plan.
Money problems are stressful. There’s no getting around this fact but there’s also absolutely no reason to despair or feel like there isn’t a solution to your problem. Keeping your eye on the prize of a debt-free life will help to reduce your stress, as you know you’re heading towards a brighter future.
Get help from a professional
If you’re dealing with financial stress and money worries you don’t have to feel alone. There are professionals available to help you regain control and live a life free of debt and it’s related stresses.
The team at Debt Negotiators are experts in getting Australians out of debt and into a life of financial freedom.
Speak to us about how we can help you with: