Paying off your debt begins with having a budget and committing to it. Here are a few tips to help you start saving and stop adding to your debt:
Track your net worth and all of your expenses
Track everything—even the cup of coffee you buy before work. It all adds up and provides a map of where all your money is currently going, which you need if you want to start sending it in new directions.
It’s important that living expenses and debt-repayment come first until your head is above water. Budgeting helps you determine your “wants” from your "needs." ATB TrackIt is a valuable tool to help you monitor your current spending and see where you need to prioritize.
Setting money aside in a savings or an emergency fund keeps you safe and allows you to start investing in the future rather than paying off the past. As soon as you can afford to, it’s important to budget money from your income into savings. A good start is an emergency fund that can pay for three to six months of your current living expenses.
Improve your cash flow
Sometimes budgeting alone isn’t going to solve your issues as quickly as you want and you have to get creative. Improving your cash flow can mean refinancing or consolidating your debt into one loan, finding equity in your home, getting a second job or taking advantage of other unexplored income opportunities.
Start big or start small
There are two ways to tackle your current debt and both have their advantages. Starting “small” and paying off your least intimidating debts first allows you to see results sooner, giving you that feeling of accomplishment you need to get through the process. Meanwhile starting “big” with your highest interest debts will take longer before you see them fully repaid, but it will mean paying less over the long run.
Know your milestones
Setting goals is not only a great way to track your progress, but to also earn a sense of achievement as you make your way out of debt. Don’t worry if your goals have to change along the way or take you longer to accomplish than you hoped. As long as you keep moving towards them, you’ll get there eventually.
Get help as you achieve your goals
This isn’t an easy process to get through. It’s important as you start that you talk to people, including family, friends, professionals and mentors, who can offer not only encouragement, but also practical advice.