While past social cultures were quick to dismiss the need for emotional and mental health awareness, we are fortunate to be living in a time of heightened awareness, especially since the arrival of the COVID pandemic. It is abundantly clear that our daily life, work situation, financial struggles, etc., all directly impact our health and wellness.
While we will quickly review the very real health complications that can unleash and worsen during financially challenging times, we will focus on a few easy ways to keep your debt under control and lighten the burdensome load. We all deserve a healthy life, regardless of our struggles and hard times.
THE HIGH TOLL OF DEBT
Studies are clear, those with debt experience multiple symptoms of physical, emotional and mental illness. Canada reports that “…for many Canadians, money worries are the greatest source of stress, more than work, personal health and relationships.” In fact, such stress can result in,
- Poor sleep
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Over-all poor health
How can you ward off financial stress when it comes to debt and avoid related health issues? Try these three rock-solid approaches to reduce your financial burdens.
ADJUST YOUR HABITS
Large amounts of debt may feel overwhelming. Making slight changes to your daily habits can relieve that overwhelming feeling and lighten the financial burden. While eliminating debt is the end goal, not acquiring new debt is just as important. In fact, saving a few dollars here and there means you have more for bill payments and less chance of going further into debt.
- Audit your spending. The habit of tracking your spending is incredibly helpful. Try a mobile app that will even categorize your spending habits and make it easier for you to see where you are wasting your hard-earned cash.
- Tweak your flexible expenses. Do you really need your $6 latte every morning? We may all want it, but when debt is an issue, it’s essential to come back to the basics, needs versus wants. You might want to get take-out three times a week; you might be exhausted and spread thin, too tired to shop or cook. Once again, you need to ask yourself, “Is this a need or a want?”. Even just reducing your “want” habits to once a week or once a month can have a remarkable effect on your bank account.
- Plan ahead. Take an hour every weekend to plan out the coming week. What groceries do you need? Make a meal plan or shop the flyers. Price match is available at some grocery stores, allowing you to benefit from deals at more than one store. The tedious one hour of planning will alleviate your stress about what to cook and reduce the chances of unexpected take-out.
- Envelope method. The envelope method is one of the best budget types for those looking to get out of debt. The reason is that it accounts for everything, adds a visual aspect to the mental process, and you won’t accidentally go over budget. It can be integrated into your life whether you get paid weekly, bi-monthly or even monthly.
ELIMINATE YOUR DEBT
Once you’ve got a handle on your spending habits, it’s time to double down on your debt. There are a few tried and true ways of doing this.
- The Snowball method. CNBC introduces the benefits of David Ramsey’s Snowball method. “To try it, start by listing out all of your debts, smallest to largest. Pay the minimum balance on each one, except the smallest. For that one, dedicate as much cash as possible each month until it is repaid. Then move on to the second-smallest debt.” This theory is based on the motivation and momentum gained from accomplishing a small goal in a short amount of time.
- The Avalanche method. The concept is to line up your debts according to interest rate. Start paying as much as you can on the highest interest rate debt while making the required minimum payment on the others. Once the highest interest rate card is paid off, you can move on to the card with the next highest interest rate. The theory behind this one is you will lose less money to the interest.
- Consolidate. Consolidating your debt is another solid technique of paying it off. Shop around for rates or promotions that are in line with balance transfers. You can always ask your personal financial institution to match the offer, setting up automatic payments or transfers so that you never miss a payment again.
Last but not least, make sure you are using your savings wisely. You will want to consider what you are saving, how and where you are saving it.
- Build an emergency fund. The first step in making wise use of your savings is to save for the right things. An emergency fund gives you wiggle room when an unexpected cost comes up. Rather than pulling from your credit or alternate savings accounts, you have a dedicated Emergency Fund ready to provide back-up. You can set one up quickly with the right advice. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, consider an online loan to get you back on your feet without harming your credit.
- Grow your savings. Rather than choose just any savings account, try looking for one with a high-interest rate. You can also opt for GICs (Guaranteed Investment Certificates.), where you technically lend an institution your money, and they are guaranteed to return it to you with high interest earned after a determined period of time.
Eliminating debt is no small feat, and so it’s ever important to make sure you find happiness in the small and steady route. There are no overnight miracles, but dreams do come true. You need not fear the debt, but rather make the debt certain it’s scared of you!
24Cash is a Canadian company looking out for fellow hard-working Canadians. What options do you have when your debts are overwhelming? How can you manage a tight budget? At 24Cash.ca, we want to help. Follow our blog for sound advice and tips on how to better manage your savings and debts.