How to stay on track with your debt repayment
By ATB Financial 29 October 2018 2 min read
So you decided to consolidate your debt and followed the 6 steps to make it happen. Now what?
Here are 5 tips for staying on track with your debt repayments:
1. Keep tabs on your budget and spending.
You probably made a real effort to control your spending and built a budget when you started the debt consolidation process, but it's important to maintain those good habits—otherwise you could find yourself in deeper debt troubles.
Take a few minutes once a week to check in on your spending and stay on top of things. There are many online tools that can help you keep tabs on all of your accounts, investments, and liabilities.
2. Recommit to paying off your credit card each month.
Credit cards can produce the worst kind of debt because they generally have the highest interest rates. If you slipped back into the bad habit of carrying a balance on your card (even a small one), your number one priority should be to pay off that balance—and pay off your card every month.
If you find it a struggle to manage your credit card spending, consider dropping your limit to a reasonable amount ($500 or $1000).
3. Make extra loan payments when you can.
As with any loan, the faster you can pay it off, the better. By increasing your loan payments—even just a little bit—you will end up paying less in interest and find yourself debt-free faster. With most personal loans, there is no penalty for increasing your payments, and you can pay it off at any time.
A good habit to adopt is increasing your regular loan payments whenever your paycheque goes up, such as when you get a raise or a cost-of-living increase. On top of that, whenever you get some extra cash (like for your birthday), put half of it towards your consolidated loan and the other half into an emergency savings fund. That way, when unexpected expenses happen (and they will!), you can lean on your savings before dipping back into debt.
4. Reward yourself for your hard work.
A shopping spree or trip to Vegas may not be the best idea, but a little treat—like a massage or a nice dinner out—every month won't do you any harm. In fact, it may help you manage your money better because you won't feel like you have to rebel against your responsible self.
To accommodate these personal perks, set aside a bit of cash—maybe $100 or $200—every month for fun stuff. After all, living your life and paying off your debt shouldn't be mutually exclusive.
5. Check in with your financial institution about new accounts, loans, or credit cards that could benefit you.
Rates change, fees get waived, and incentives come and go. Check out banking websites to see what the latest offers are, or chat with an expert at your local branch to see if there's anything that could save you bit a money each month. You'll never know if you don't look around or ask.
Saving, spending, and budgeting don't have to be stressful. If you follow these tips and focus on the debt-free finish line, you'll be able to enjoy your money instead of cursing the lack of it.