People are pretty much always willing to offer up advice, even when you haven’t asked for it. Throughout my debt freedom journey, I’ve received advice from a number of individuals, but how do you decipher what advice is good and what you should let go “in one ear and out the other?” Here’s how to determine if the debt advice you’re receiving is something to consider or not.
What is the Best Debt Advice?
So, there’s no best advice when it comes to paying off debt. Everyone’s finances are different, therefore, their approach will need to be different. However, there are certain pieces of debt advice that have consistently helped people.
- Make a budget and stick to it. Believe it or not, budgeting for repaying your debt makes it easier to stay on track. Not to mention, having a solid budget will keep you from overspending, which is what causes most people to go into debt in the first place.
- Avoid taking on any new/additional debt. If you have become accustomed to swiping your credit card for things, this can be difficult. Consider hiding it or even cutting it up. Additionally, you shouldn’t take out any loans to consolidate your debt. It will almost always prevent you from making significant progress towards your goal.
- Set realistic goals for yourself. Many people fail at making realistic goals when it comes to their finances. If you stretch yourself too thin, you’ll cave under stress. Be sure to budget money for fun things and set realistic time frames for debt and savings goals based on that.
- Contact your lenders if you’re having trouble paying. We’ve all had issues making payments at some point. The best thing you can do if you’re struggling to repay a lender is to give them a call. Most will work with you on repayment and some will even give you a break on late fees, etc.
- If you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it. Cash is king. If you don’t have the money in the bank, or you haven’t budgeted for the purchase, you can’t afford it. It’s that simple.
While these five pieces of debt advice are solid, not everything everyone tells you is going to help you pay off your debt. Here are a few things to consider.
How to Determine What Advice is Good
Be wary of anyone telling you there’s a “cure-all” to your debt problem. No single approach is good for everyone. You’ll need to cater your debt freedom journey to your personal needs. It may be worth looking into certain approaches if what you are doing isn’t working, but what works for someone else won’t always necessarily work for you.
Additionally, don’t listen to anyone telling you that taking out more debt to consolidate or further your progress is a good idea. You will only be hindering your ultimate goal of being debt-free. Instead, consider ways you can cut spending or earn more to help pay off your debts.
The Best Piece of Advice I’ve Ever Received
Since starting my own debt-free journey, I’ve received all kinds of advice from several different people. Some individuals have suggested consolidation loans, others have said to use all of my savings to pay off my debt, and one person even told me that I didn’t have to pay certain debts off (seriously).
The best piece of debt advice I’ve ever received, however, was this: be patient with yourself. There is no roadmap to debt freedom. The journey looks different for everyone and we all have to feel our way through things. For us, we’ve had to learn to live on one income, hide the credit cards, and focus on living a cash-only lifestyle. That may not work for everyone, especially for families with children.
It is easy to get frustrated when you aren’t seeing progress and it is even easier to simply give up. Finding patience for your journey and yourself is key to becoming debt-free.
Readers, what is the best piece of debt advice you’ve ever received?
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Amanda Blankenship is the Director of Social Media for District Media. In addition to her duties handling everything social media, she frequently writes for a handful of blogs and loves to share her own personal finance story with others. When she isn’t typing away at her desk, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog. During her free time, you’re likely to find her with her nose in a book, hiking, or playing RPG video games.