here are a million ways that we can describe debt. Debt is debilitating. Debt is frustrating. Debt is torture. And debt is painful. Just to name a few. By now, you surely have more than enough adjectives to describe the unpleasantness that comes along with being in debt. But what if I told you that you could employ a certain set of habits to help you get out of debt?
In particular, there are 21 debt-free habits that will help to eliminate debt from your life. Some of these habits are good habits that need to be built up, and others are bad financial habits that need to be torn down. A debt-free life can be achieved as long as we work on this two-part approach to both buildings up good debt-free habits while eliminating bad financial habits. But, make no mistake, employing the debt-free habits and eliminating the bad financial habits is no walk in the park, nor are any of these overnight solutions to your problems. They require true grit, sacrifice, and devotion.
If you want to get out of debt, you have to make sure that you’re committed to it. But think about how good it would feel to be debt-free…Imagine for a moment being debt-free. How much weight would be lifted off your shoulders? What would you do with your time? Where would you go? Would you continue to spend money or would you change your behavior and ensure that you didn’t burden yourself with unnecessary debt again? Being debt-free isn’t some pie-in-the-sky hope. You can be debt-free as long as you’re willing to make sacrifices and employ a set of debt-free habits to help eliminate debt from your life once and for all.
Why Debt-Free Habits?
Almost everyone is familiar with the term “habits.” We all have them. They either work to help us in life or hinder us. Plain and simple. In fact, we’re a direct reflection of our habits, whether we like it or not. And deep down inside we all know what habits are working to serve us and what habits are working to hold us back. So, when it comes to eliminating debt from our lives, not only do we need to institute a set of good habits, but we also need to eliminate a set of bad habits.
This one-two punch, if you will, is the best way to really cripple, decimate, and ultimately, raze debt to the ground, entirely eliminating it from our lives. Of course, it’s not easy to employ these debt-free habits, in both buildings up good financial habits while eliminating the bad ones. But if you stay focused for at least 90 days, and commit yourself to do whatever it takes, then you could climb out of the chasm of debt that tends to swallow most people whole. But,
what you’ll also come to learn is that by first starting with good financial habits that are considered you can make much more progress. Focus on the keystone debt-free habits, and you’ll watch as the bad habits fall to the wayside and your arsenal of good habits to help eliminate debt slowly builds over time. So what are keystone habits and what role do they play here?
Keystone habits, as Charles Duhigg once coined them in his best-selling book, “The Power of Habit,” work as a gateway towards good-habit development. They help to build momentum and set yourself up for success. For example, on days that you work out for 20 minutes, you’ll find that you’re more conscious about things like drinking more water, taking your vitamins, and eating healthy. Why? Because working out is a keystone habit.
Debt-Free Habit List
If you’re serious about getting out of debt, the following list of both good habits that need to be employed, and bad habits that need to be eliminated, is the ticket there. Concentrate on a minimum of 90 days. Why 90 days? Because most habits are both formed and eliminated within that period. It takes us, anywhere from 16 to 254 days to create habits, good or bad, and of course to eliminate them. But the 90-day mark is an important hurdle. At 90 days, the neural pathways in the mind etch the new behavior deeply. It becomes ingrained and almost a part of us. If you’ve ever tried to build up a good habit or eliminate a bad habit in the past, if you got past that 90-day hurdle, you were far more likely to succeed. Make it past the 6-month mark, and you can almost guarantee your success. So, stay committed, be resilient, and never give up no matter how long it takes you. There will be upsets, there will be setbacks, and there will be distractions along the way. But as long as you don’t lose sight of your long-term goals, slowly but surely, you’ll succeed.
Good Habits for Eliminating Debt
#1 – Track & Record All Expenses
One of the best ways that we can get out of debt is to track and record our daily expenses. This debt-free habit means carrying a little notebook around with you where you can jot down your expenses in. You have to record everything. If you spent 10 Rs on bus fare, write it down. If you spent 50 Rs on a pack of gum, write it down. Often, it’s not that we don’t make enough money to service our debt, but it’s that the extra money that we do make is usually spent unwittingly on small purchases that add up over time. Benjamin
Franklin is famous for once saying “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”How much did you spend on eating out last month? Do you have an exact figure? How about your gas? How about bank charges and fees? Could any of that have been avoided? What we tend to do is hide from our debt and expenses rather than bring them to light. But tracking and recording everything is a debt-free habit that will break that cycle.
#2 – Create and Manage a Budget –
Debt-free isn’t a possibility without a viable budget. That budget has to be managed on a daily basis. How much spending money do you have each month or each pay period? How much of that goes towards transportation, meals & entertainment, living expenses, servicing your debt, and so on? Do you have any idea what it costs you to live? What are your variable expenses? What about your disposable income (income available after taxes), and so on? If you don’t know, and you’ve been putting this off, now is the time to dig your heels in and do the legwork. Create and manage a budget and refer to it daily. Not only will this habit help you get out of debt, but it will also help you to stay on track and not create more debt in the future. When we ignore our finances, it’s far easier to get swallowed up by the veil of secrecy that we tend to shroud on our poor spending habits.
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#3. Use Cash
Do you shop with cash? If not, you should start. Have you noticed how fast Rs 20.00 can disappear if you don’t manage how you spend it? Sometimes, you have to wonder if it really vanishes into thin air. You went to the store to purchase Rs 50.00 worth of stuff but when you leave you have spent the whole Rs 20.00. Trust me I know, it’s unreal. However, when you use your debit card it doesn’t hold you accountable to the amount of money you are spending. When you have cash, it’s good to take a calculator with you unless you are a math genius that can quickly do the math in your head. Since I have a set amount for weekly expenses every week I always use cash. This helps to hold me to my budget. Any items over the amount I allotted for is left at the store. You can start using the cash envelope system to help you stay on track with your budget. I like to use cash whenever it’s possible especially places like the grocery store, gas station, local eateries, and entertainment. It really helps me to stay on track financially.
#4 learning to Saying “No” Is Ok
One of the hardest things to do when trying to save more money is learning to say “no”. Do you know how many times we wanted to go out to dinner with friends, go to the latest movie, get a massage, go to a concert but we had to say no? Countless times we had to say no to the things we wanted to do. Guess what, we didn’t get to enjoy the activity but it helped us get a little bit closer to our end goal. You can learn quickly how to scour the internet, social media, and local libraries for free events.
Normally when it’s cold, my family hibernates but when it’s warm we like to be outside. You would be shocked by all the free events hosted by your local community. We love to go to our local farmer’s market for the strawberry festivals, wings cook-off, peach kick-out, and herb season. All the events are free and it’s nice to see local businesses showcase their talent and products. You can find a number of free events at your local parks especially to entertain your kids. Some fun events you might find can range from movie night under the stars to street festivals. Don’t be afraid to look for free events or events that fit well into your budget. If it doesn’t fit into your budget, just say no.
#5– Automatic Savings
This should be apparent to everyone: pay yourself first and set up automatic savings. No matter how small the amount is, always pay yourself first. Why? Because, when you pay yourself first, you prioritize your future. You’ll also find that this debt-free habit works in a magical way since you will always have just enough at the end of the month, even after paying yourself first. When money goes into a savings account, automatically, and you don’t have to worry about it, you enjoy a sense of security for your future.
A recent survey by CashNet.com concluded that 22 percent of people have less than $100 saved for emergency expenses and that another 46% had less than $800. It’s clear that people find it difficult to save money. For that reason, making your savings automatic takes the guesswork out of things. You get to pay yourself first with this debt-free habit, and in turn, work your way towards building a nest egg for the future.
#6 – Consult with a Financial Mentor
We all need a mentor in life. , our mentors usually give us the right direction. That’s also because they tend to have more experience than we do. Locate a financial mentor that you can consult with for all things finance-related. This not only helps you to get out of debt but also to improve your financial planning. Now, I’m not speaking about a money manager, a tax consultant, or some other professional that’s paid to work with you. A financial mentor is someone that you meet who helps you on a personal level. Don’t know anyone successful like that? Go to networking meetings. Speak to people. Engage in online chats and forums. You have to put it out there in the world. Don’t be afraid or shy. Utilize your powers of persuasion to get what you want. Once you find a financial mentor, make it a debt-free habit to consult with them on a periodic basis. This doesn’t have to be daily. But at least weekly if not monthly.
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#7 – USE OF Credit Cards
It’s good practice to freeze your credit cards when you’re trying to eliminate debt. For most people, credit cards can burn a hole in their pockets. If there’s money left to spend, they’ll spend it. Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Personal loans aren’t nearly as common a way to borrow money as credit cards. According to the Reserve bank of India(RBI) data, it May 2010 the total outstanding personal loan amounting with bank stood at Rs 5.89 lakh crore this amount as on June 2018 was 19.33 lakh crore and according to RBI credit card outstanding 3.93 crores and on June 2011 it was 1.76 core credit card is part of personal But, by bad your credit cards, you’re sending a powerful message to your brain with this debt-free habit. You’re telling it that you’re no longer willing to sacrifice your financial health and your mental wellbeing, just to enjoy the spending impulses that seem to plague most folks out there.
# 8. Know Your Progress
With any goal you set, it’s imperative that you track your progress. When I create my monthly budget, I have no choice but to review it weekly. This helps me to stay on track and learn any pitfalls along the way. The creation of short and long term goals requires you to do a pulse check. This helps you determine if you are on track to complete your goal in a timely manner. For example, one of your short term goals is to make a large purchase in six months. If you have experienced a few bumps along the way, you will need to adjust your timeframe to accommodate. You wouldn’t be aware of this if you didn’t track your goals from beginning to end. Plus, seeing your progress, helps to keep you motivated
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# 9 – WAITE FOR Minute Spending
For most people, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when it comes to spending. For that reason, you need to create a buzzer zone. What is it? Well, for this debt-free habit, give yourself a 15-minute buffer when it comes to impulse purchases. If you’re browsing a Website or at a shopping mall and just have to buy something, stop what you’re doing and set a timer on your phone to 15 minutes. Why 15 minutes? Impulse buying is just that – it acts on impulse. It becomes an emotional response to a subconscious trigger. But, when we pull ourselves away from the situation and really think about things for a moment, we can limit our impulse spending. Learn to employ this debt-free habit, and watch as you slowly take back control of your financial life
# 10 – Pay Down Your Debt
Last, but certainly not least when it comes to habits that help to extricate you from the shackles of debt, is to pay down your debt. Focus on your highest interest rate cards first. Pay double the monthly minimum payments until it’s paid off, then move to the next one. If you’re only paying minimum payments, it will take forever to eliminate your debt. We pick the highest interest rate cards first because the interest rates can help eat up your entire debt-eliminating budget. Once the first card is paid off, do the same thing for the next card and so on. If you can pay triple the payments, even better. If you’re committed to this, you’ll find ways to save money so that you can employ this debt-free habit regularly.
Bad Financial Habits that increase Debt
Here’s the flip-side of the coin. With the good, there comes the bad. Not only do we have to build up the good debt-free habits, but we also have to eliminate the bad financial habits if we want to enjoy freedom from debt. If you relate with any of these bad financial habits, do what you can to break free of them.
#11 – Fancy Buying
Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves – we just need to buy the that certain watch, car, suit, vacation, latest electronic device, or what have you. But, impulse buying is a surefire way to wind up in debt. The problem today is that credit is so cheap that it’s so hard to avoid acting on impulses. But, if you can consciously eliminate this bad financial habit from your life, you can be on your way to being debt free over time. So, how do we avoid impulse buying? Well, first of all, don’t put yourself into situations where you might want to buy something on impulse. Don’t go shopping with all your credit cards or browse online at your favorite stores when you know you shouldn’t be spending money. Second, keep a ledger with you to record your emotions. You’ll find that this takes some of the impulses out of things. For example, if you’re feeling the sudden urge to buy a new smartphone or wearable device, jot down that feeling. Why do you need it right now? What can you spend the money on if you didn’t make that purchase? How much debt can you pay off?
#12 – Bank charges
One thing that plagues many individuals is excessive bank fees such as overdraft charges, which are the result of poor financial planning and acting on impulses. Considering that bank fees can be avoided, having an excessive amount of these can decimate any limited financial budget. So, what’s the solution? Well, if you’re going to eliminate debt from your life, this is absolutely one habit you must break. Analyze your past 6 months of bank statements and total your average amount of bank fees. How did they occur? How could they have been avoided? Some people pay in excess of Rs 2000 in bank fees per month, money that can easily be used to pay off high-interest credit cards, student loans, and other expenses.
#13 – Payday LoansQuite
possibly one of the deadliest financial habits you can have is to get into the payday loan cycle. Payday loans sometimes referred to as cash advances, can have interest rates up to 1000%, making it very difficult to get out of the cycle, especially for those who find themselves overspending their means. You should never take a payday loan, regardless of the situation. This habit won’t let you become debt free; it will, in fact, force you deeper into debt than you already are. Some states and countries have begun to both regulate and outlaw payday loans, redefining the terms of usury.
#14 – Credit Card Spending
Credit card spending is a bad financial habit plain and simple. It’s easy to whip out that shiny credit card and purchase something that you ultimately can’t afford to pay off right away. Especially when it comes to small expenses, credit card spending can add up and it’s a deadly financial habit. Use your credit cards wisely. If you want to eliminate debt from your life, then cut up all of your credit cards except for one that would be used only for emergency purposes.
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#15 – Minimum Monthly Payments
This poor financial habit equates to doing the bare minimum in life. That certainly won’t get you far, especially if you’re looking to rid yourself of debt. But, this is a bad financial habit that plagues a good portion of people who are just getting by in life due to the bad financial decisions of their past. If you find yourself employing this poor habit, immediately do something to change it. Always pay more than the minimum monthly payment due, especially on loans or credit cards with excessive interest rates. For example, some credit cards can stretch upwards of 30% in annual interest. On $5,000 in credit card debt, that would equate to paying an additional $1,500 just to service that debt.
#16 – Overspending,
Of course, the bad financial habit of overspending doesn’t need much description. Many people find themselves in this situation from month to month. Of course, in emergency situations, often there’s no avoiding overspending. But, on a regular basis, you should be putting away at least 15% or more of your income towards savings. To stop the bad financial habit of overspending, you really have to employ some of the good keystone debt-free habits discussed in the first section. By tracking and recording all expenses and doing a daily audit with your money minute, you can have a better handle on your financial life and avoid overspending by carefully planning.
#17 – Small Expenses
Small leaks will sink a great ship, as Benjamin Franklin once said, and there have never been more truer words. It’s hard to see the small expenses that add up, but when we look at the big picture, it’s far easier to become aware of this. If you have small expenses that seem to be eating away at your monthly budget, such as gym memberships that are unused, and other payments for things you might have long ago forgotten, it’s important to regain control of your financial life by eliminating these. These small expenses equate to bad financial habits that we employ on a daily basis. If you can rid yourself of the small expenses, you can ultimately work towards a debt-free life. Calculate your small expenses and see just how much you’re spending on the various unused services in your life.
#18 – Cigarette Smoking
Quite possibly equivalent to throwing your money away, cigarette smoking is a bad financial habit. If you’re a smoker, how much do you spend on that habit? Is it one pack per day, two, or even more? At an average cost of Rs 50 per pack and just one pack per day, you’re looking at Rs 1500 per month in added spending. What can you do with an extra Rs 1500 per month? What debt can you pay down? It really is hard to see the bigger picture when we’re so enthralled in our daily habits. But, if you’re a smoker, do whatever it takes to eliminate this bad financial habit from your life right away.
#19 – Gambling
Needless to say, gambling is a bad financial habit. Some people have it worse than others. Now, it’s not to say that you can’t get out there and buy the occasional lottery ticket. But, when you’re constantly gambling, betting, and playing the lottery on a daily or weekly basis, you really are throwing your money away. This is why it pays to write down all of your expenses (keystone debt-free habit#1) because you can go back and see just where your money went, especially if you didn’t use a debit card for your purchases. , because you can go back and see just where your money went, especially if you didn’t use a debit card for your purchases.
#20 – Excessive Drinking
There are no two ways around it, excessive drinking is a bad financial habit. You are, in fact, drinking your money away. Not only is drinking costly, especially if you’re out on the town often, but it also leads to other poor financial decisions when you’re too uninhibited to make sound and reasonable choices about your spending. If you drink, especially excessively, do what you can to eliminate that from your life. If you want to be debt free, commit to a 6-month or even 12-month cleanse. Rid yourself of the toxins and also eliminate the debt from your life in the meantime. How much could you save if you didn’t drink for 12 months?
#21 – Lying, Cheating, & Stealing
These three, although not directly tied to bad financial habits, can easily affect your financial future by landing you into hot water, possibly legal trouble, and even jail. All of these will become financially costly in the end. So, don’t lie, cheat, or steal, and always act with integrity. Again, becoming debt free isn’t just about employing good debt-free habits, it’s also about eliminating the poor financial habits that tend to get us into trouble. It doesn’t happen overnight, but these poor financial decisions ultimately lead to our demise.
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