There is the age-old question of which to do first – add to your savings or pay off debt. Fortunately, the true answer is all of the above. You can be paying off debt while at the same time adding to your savings. This will require a rock-solid commitment on your part but it can be done. And here are five things you can do to accomplish this.
Make a budget
Every financial expert I’ve ever read says that every financial plan needs to start with a budget. You need to sit down, think through your spending and write everything down to the last penny. You should reduce as many of your unnecessary expenses as you can by buying just what you need. A good rule of phone is to budget 80% of your income for debt payments and to save 20%.
Get credit counseling
Many debts including student loan debts can be consolidated into a lower payment. You could go to a nonprofit credit-counseling agency that would negotiate lower payments with your creditors. Most of these agencies will help you create a plan for paying off your debts and then submitted to your creditors. Assuming they all approved it, you would then have just one payment to make a month to the credit-counseling agency. Just make sure that you get an affordable payment plan and that you don’t end up paying higher interest rates.
Save money by consolidating your debts
If you could get a debt consolidation loan, this would probably save you money that you could use to grow your savings. This is especially true if you have enough equity in your house to do a refi or get a second mortgage or homeowner’s equity line of credit. If you were able to get one of these loans at 4% or less and with more favorable terms, you should end up with a monthly payment that would be much less than the sum of your current monthly payments. I have seen cases of homeowners who were able to do refis that save them several hundred dollars a month.
Automate your payments
One good way to make sure that you’re saving 20% of your income a month is to automate things so that a part of your income goes directly to your savings or retirement account. To do this, all you would probably have to do is create a recurring payment for a certain percentage of your paycheck to go directly to this account.
Save every day
Did you know that you probably overspend or overpay on items you wouldn’t even really miss? For example, it costs less to shop for seasonal foods and a farmer’s market. It also costs less to buy staple items such as shampoo and detergent at a discount store rather than at your grocery store or one of those high-end stores.
Create mini goals
If you are used to indulging yourself with luxury items, it can be tough to get into the habit of paying off debts. This is why it’s important to have mini goals and rewards. A mini goal might be to pay off half of the credit card debt or to add a certain amount of money to your savings account. You should also have savings set aside for special events. Then when reach a mini goal you could reward yourself. The reward could be a night at a favorite restaurant or a dinner out and a movie. And you won’t have to feel guilty because you can tap into your special events savings to pay for it.