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Are you struggling to get out of debt? You’re not alone.

Though unemployment is at an all time low, American’s are still having a difficult time paying their bills. According to a recent survey of 1,000 families conducted by Bankrate, “29% of Americans have more credit card debt than they do emergency savings…” In fact, with the Federal Reserve stating that, “…roughly 4 in 10 Americans would struggle covering a $400 emergency expense,”  it’s no wonder the American Psychology Association found that 44% of people had an increase in stress over the past 5 years. Concerns about “…money, work and the economy…” topped the list of reasons, with “…fears about job stability…” on the rise.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, finances can spiral out of control. CNBC reported that last year, “Americans racked up more than $1,000 in holiday debt” and “…only 42 percent of shoppers said they’ll pay off those purchases in three months or less.” If you are ready to tackle down your debt before things get out of hand, these 3 simple tips can help you take charge of your finances and become debt free.

Set Up a Spending Plan

While the idea of setting up a budget can feel restrictive, The Spending Plan Mindset found that a spending plan can actually make people feel empowered. With a spending plan, rather than trying to find ways to cut back as you would with a budget, you can “…consider what expenditures would help you reach your long-term financial goals” and then generate a course of action to achieve them.

Determine what it is you would like to spend your money on each month, down to the penny. Utilizing the 50/30/20 principle, figure out realistic food costs, utility bills and recreational money, allocating funds towards each and sticking to them. Remember to set aside funds for an emergency, so that when the unexpected occurs, you are not going into additional debt.

Develop a Payment Plan

Once you implement a spending plan that works for you and your family, determine what you can afford to pay towards your debt each month, utilizing a snowball or avalanche method of payment. The debt snowball method is a “…reduction strategy in which you pay off bills in order of smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate.”  The avalanche method is a “… type of accelerated debt repayment plan. Essentially, a debtor allocates enough money to make the minimum payment on each source of debt, then devotes any remaining repayment funds to the debt with the highest interest rate.”

Only you know which method is best for you, but either way: taking on your debt with a clear and concise plan will help you take charge and get ahead. If a payment plan is not an option for you, consider contacting your debtors directly or getting in touch with a reputable debt consolidation company.

Earn Extra Cash

To make extra payments towards debt or to build an emergency savings fund, there are simple side gigs you can do to help earn some additional cash.

    • E-commerce: Used or new items within your home or those found at garage sales and thrift stores can be sold on Amazon and Ebay. Thousands have found ecommerce to be so successful, they keep their inventory in a self-storage unit, earning extra income even after their debt is paid off.
    • Driving Apps: If you have a vehicle at your disposal, you can work on your own time driving for Favor Delivery, Lyft, DoorDash or Instacart. Ride-sharing and delivery services allow you to work as much or as little as you want, and provide you with an opportunity for unlimited income potential.
    • AirBnB: If you live close to a sports arena or other tourist destination, consider renting your home as an AirBnB. You can easily store valuables or important documents in a local self-storage unit at minimal cost in order to keep belongings secure.

By establishing a spending plan, implementing a payment plan and finding ways to earn some extra cash through a side hustle, you can become debt free and stay debt free!

“Whether you want to exercise more often, or you’re hoping to become debt-free, real change happens in stages. Slow and steady progress is great – as long as you’re taking steps in the right direction.” -Amy Morin

Wishing you much success!