How To Lessen Your Debt And Save Money In 2024

 While we all may joke about filing for bankruptcy after the holidays, the truth is that debt is no laughing matter. In fact, as a whole, Americans have $17.06 trillion in debt as of 2023. Being deep in debt can be overwhelming, and it can feel like there’s no way out except to file for bankruptcy.

But in reality, there are a few things you can do to get out of debt before taking that last leap. By being smart with your money, you can pay off your debt before having to file. It’s not easy by any means, but ultimately, you’ll be much better off by being debt-free.

Cut Non-essential Services

While having multiple services for your everyday needs is convenient, things like grocery delivery, landscaping, house cleaning, and other services add up over time. Look at the assorted services you use and see if there’s a way to DIY it. Some landscapers, for instance, are willing to show you what to do to keep your yard green, and YouTube is a great tool for finding housekeeping hacks.

Even cutting one of these services will help you save money in the long run. Plus, you can enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done in addition to a clean home, green lawn, or full fridge.

Consider Downsizing

If your kids are out of the house–or you bought a massive house as a sort of bucket list desire–then ask yourself if the size of your home is actually best suited for your needs. 

Downsizing to a smaller home can get you a good amount of profit from the sale of your original home, which can go to either your savings or toward paying off your debts. You might also look into “flipping” an older house that needs some upgrades in order to get the amenities and look you want for much less than buying a “dream home” with everything already included. Not only will you be able to properly budget for your repairs and do them over time, but you can work with a contractor to customize your home especially for you and your family. With a little elbow grease and TLC, you can make the home of your dreams.

Dump The Credit Cards

While credit cards are a quick way to build credit, they’re also full of opportunities to get even deeper in debt. So here’s your sign to cancel your cards.

And don’t worry about a drop in your credit score, either. While you may see an initial dip in your credit after canceling, your credit score will rise as you pay off your debt–you may even have a higher score than before you canceled your cards with enough time.

Create A Budgeting Plan

Did you know almost 30% of Americans say they don’t budget? And even more admit that they don’t stick with it. Don’t be part of that crowd–this year, create a budget that works for you.

To start, take a look at where your money goes each month. Divide your spending into essentials (rent/mortgage, bills, tuition), necessities (groceries, gas, necessary purchases like uniforms), and “fun” spending (coffee, eating out, non-essential shopping). Once you see your spending habits, you’ll get a much better idea of what costs you can cut to save money. While your rent or mortgage probably can’t be cheaper, you can commit to making a set shopping list every time you get groceries and brew your own coffee at home.

Simply being conscientious is a great way to start. And don’t forget to set goals for yourself–sticking to a budget is much easier when you have something you’re working toward–whether that’s being debt-free or saving up for a new house.

Keep Yourself Accountable

One of the best ways to stick to your budget is to have someone checking in on you. While it can feel embarrassing to admit to having money troubles–especially if you indulged in a wealthy lifestyle–you can find an accountability partner in the form of a financial advisor from your bank, your tax preparer, or a financial coach. 

These people are trained to help you make the best choices with your money, and they’ll be your biggest cheerleaders as you work your way out of debt. Plus, if you do decide to have a friend keep you accountable, it can be a huge relief to let them know that you’re struggling and relieve some of the pressure of “keeping up with the Joneses”.

Go To The Professionals

If you feel overwhelmed in trying to manage your money, it may be time to bring in the pros. Talking to a financial professional–whether that’s someone at your bank, an accountant, or a financial coach–can be a great asset to your financial growth. Like we’ve said, these professionals are specially trained to know how to best use money, whether that’s investments, budgeting, or getting out of debt. 

They’ll be able to explain to you, in plain language, how to best plan your way around your debt and paying them off. It can make your financial situation feel a lot more hopeful when you have someone laying out how it can be fixed.

File For Bankruptcy The Right Way

In some cases, if your debt is too great, then bankruptcy may end up being the best option. While it can seem frightening, often those who file for bankruptcy find relief after months or even years of calls about their debt. However, this isn’t a “erase your debt and go back to spending” solution–you’ll still need to build back your credit and work toward re-establishing yourself financially.

If you do file for bankruptcy, the best course of action is to get in contact with an attorney first. A lawyer that specializes in bankruptcy can walk you through the process, as well as presenting you with the best options for your situation.

Being in debt can be overwhelming, and it’s not uncommon for people to feel like getting out of it is hopeless. But if you think ahead and budget well, you can work your way into being debt-free. By using these tips, you’ll be able to bounce back from any financial hardship–even bankruptcy–to find a sense of financial peace and a life you enjoy.

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