How to Manage Your Debt in 10 Minutes a Week
Ten minutes may not seem like a lot of time to manage your debt but that’s exactly the point. Setting aside just 10 small minutes each week — that’s two minutes a day, Monday to Friday — to manage your money could make a world of difference towards becoming debt free.
Before you begin, you will need to do a little bit of homework.
First, you’ll need to work out exactly how much income you’re generating after taxes. Break it down to one week’s wages. If you are paid monthly, you’ll need to do the math. You’ll want to know exactly how much you’re making each week, down to the dollar, in order for this to debt management exercise to be effective.
Next, track your spending for one week or more (most financial advisors recommend tracking for at least one month in order to really learn your spending habits). There are a variety of apps that can help you do this in order to manage your money; most are free but some offer premium tools to purchase. You will have to share your bank and credit card accounts in order to use most of the money tracking apps. But if you’re not keen on sharing that information or prefer paying in cash, there are some apps out there that will allow you to input the information yourself. This does take more work, however, it will hold you accountable each time you have to enter a transaction manually.
Now that you have worked out your input and output, and have hopefully discovered you’re not spending more than you’re earning, it’s time to start managing that debt.
Take a look at your output expenses and start cutting out necessities. Obviously you need to pay rent or your mortgage, plus, you need to eat, so those things you can file under necessities.
But what about non-essentials and their effect on your ability to manage debt?
Think takeaway coffee, eating out for lunch, takeout dinner, cable or streaming services, magazine subscriptions and alcohol. Basically anything you don’t physically need to survive, you should consider cutting if you’re serious about paying down your debt. Set aside a few minutes the night before to pack your lunch for the next day and get your travel mug ready to take your own coffee — you’ll be amazed at how much money this will save you each week. Consider taking public transport and leaving the car at home to save money on petrol and car upkeep.
As part of your new debt management routine take 1-2 minutes each evening to calculate how much you spent during the day — if you see that you are unnecessarily spending on a certain item or thing you know you can live without, cut it from those daily expenses.
Another way to manage your debt long term is to categorise your money into three separate categories:
- Bills (like insurance, car rego and utilities)
- Holiday or big purchase item (saving for 12 months for a holiday or new car, etc)
- Every day expenses (petrol, entertainment, food, etc)
By using this method, you would ultimately be breaking down your income each week and separating it into these three categories, in other words, budgeting the money you do have for upcoming expenses.
There is always a knee jerk reaction to try and earn more when you are facing financial hardship but many experts recommend what you should be doing, is in fact, saving more in order to get yourself out of debt and kick start an effective money management plan.
Once you learn how to manage the money you have now and can come up with an effective solution to track and monitor your spending, you’ll be well on your way on the road towards becoming debt free.