Debt Management - 1 year on


Changing the habit of a lifetime is hard. The road is bumpy and sometimes despite your best intentions and efforts it just doesn't work.

A year ago I set upon a mission to become debt free and manage my outgoings more responsibly, I was tired of the unopened post mounting up under my bed, I wished that I would develop the skill to click my fingers and change my habit, I wished that I could win the lottery and pay it all off and vow to be more sensible. 

A year ago I started to change my behaviour and I want to focus on the "year" part of that, because it's taken the best part of 12 months for me to become more aware, more sensible and to not cave into the over consuming habits I was ever so used to. A whole year since I decided that actually, I really need to get control of this, before it takes control of me. I see things all the time that I want, I see them daily. On a daily basis I pass through Oxford Street in London to get to work and home again, the biggest temptation especially after a hard or disappointing day. 

I've battled with myself for a year to change my habits, to take responsibility for my debt and pay it off. It takes a long time to change behaviour and you have to be 100% committed to the cause. Everyone wants to be debt free, and I'm always taking frivolous debt, spending on cards because you CAN and not because you HAVE to. 

So here are the situations it's OKAY to use a card to deal with a financial issue. 

  • Broken down car and your miles away from pay day, and you need it fixed. This is okay but you need to pay it off in instalments or in full as soon as pay day comes
  • Household emergencies, broken boilers, locks need changing, broken window, broken essential items (washing machines, cookers that sort of thing)
  • Personal emergencies, think broken tooth, or health related emergencies and NOT bad day personal emergencies. 
  • Family emergencies, e.g. a relative is sick and you need to either hop on a train, plan or coach to visit.  

I will say that I think it helps to manage this being single. I couldn't imagine the conversation between couples. It's a lot easier knowing that I've been frivolous by myself without adding anyone else into the mix and I think that having to admit you have debt is really difficult despite it being a common instance amongst most adults, and honestly a bit of a turn off I would be turned off if this debt was the other way round. 

So far, I have consolidated a bit of it, to one lovely payment which is nice and slightly easier and actually only having two payments going out instead of 4 or 5 is so much more manageable and actually LESS money going out, but that's not always the case so I would recommend looking into how much the payments are before you go ahead. I'm £50 a month better of since consolidating which in my eyes was worth it, I'm also paying MORE than the minimum payments, but have the option to lessen them if needed. 

Life throws many curve balls so I like having the option to lessen payments If I need to, rather than struggling with the minimums. 

I see things daily that I want, temptation literally haunts my sleep sometimes and the "Buyers Guilt" gets me ALL the time, but you know what? I feel SO much better for it. Buyers Guilt goes away, honestly it does, it's also a lot easier to deal with when the thing or things you wanted end up all over Instagram, in practically every magazine and every millennial walking out of Tottenham Court Road station. Sorry leopard print slip ons, but you're the main culprit in this, I still want you, but I don't have the guilt anymore and just admire everyone else's shoe choice from afar, my battered Chelsea boots keep my toes dry and are comfy and go with most of my outfit choices

I have bought things, but with actual money and not credit which I am insanely proud of. I will admit that a few things have gone on the credit card, for example the entire of Christmas was courtesy of Barclays bank plc, but It was also one of the best christmases ever so I am not sorry, I'm just paying it off.

So as we stand a year on.

To be honest, I haven't moved mountains since making this choice. I have definitely consumed LESS, a lot less, and I have change my entire attitude to consuming which was a huge challenge for me because right to the bone I am a consumer. I've focused on consuming less over the past year and readjusting attitudes whilst getting into the pattern of paying off more of the debt than the minimums. 

I was a bit disappointed that I haven't paid of more, but I am happy with my self-development. 

Aside from paying off my debt in manageable chunks and an attitude adjustment the biggest change for me was lunch. I am a grab and go sort of person, I never know what I want until I'm hungry. These days I bring in lunch 95% of the time and it's here where I've found the biggest saving. 

My general spend for weekly lunch is between £10-15 thats a saving of between £5-10 a week. The average lunch per day in central London is £8 x5 = £40 a week! Compared to my current £10-15 spend that's slightly outrageous, don't you think? I used to spend on average £5 a day on lunch, so not far off the London average, but would exceed this if I went to lunch with colleagues.

I definitely have a lot less waste these days, because the majority of what is bought actually gets eaten with this in mind, I actually spend less because I'm not replacing things which have gone off. 

Lunch is one of the biggest changes, So if you're looking to cut back on outgoings I would suggest starting with lunch.

How do you manage day to day costs? Are you on your own debt clearing mission, let me know in the comments below! 


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