August 23, 2007

StopDoingDebt: Top 5 Ways I Am Killing My Debt Today

I am huge fan of a debt free life. And you should be too. You’d be hard pressed to convince me the merit of the phrases “good debt” and “bad debt”. It is debt, and you need to be on a mission to kill it every single hour of every single moment.

Here are my very simple ways of how to do it every single day:

1. Automate: I don’t trust myself to remember anything anymore. Not to invest. Not to make a payment on time. Not to save for a rainy day. So, I use my banks automatic transaction feature and I put all my saving and investing on autopilot. I spend the money in my checkbook well ahead of time. All the bills are on autopilot. I can probably disappear for a year and all my finances are taken care of. Nothing will be late. If you want to stop stressing out about money and debt, put everything on auto pilot. Especially savings and investing.

2. Put ’em away: You cannot use it if you don’t have it on you. DO NOT CARRY YOUR CREDIT CARDS. As I open my wallet right now and look, I do not have a single credit card on my. I have 2-3, but they are over in my desk drawer (I hope). I don’t have them on me so I cannot do that quick mental justification of using one when I see a deal. If I am out shopping and I don’t have my regular debit card and I need to use the CC then I am SOL. I’ll have to come back and buy it later. But by that time, I will have found the debit card or usually gone to the ATM for cash.

3. Be happy with what you have: A lot of credit card debt comes from material acquisitions. I want more stuff. Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! NOW! Even if you don’t have the cash a credit card gives you a great way to get it all now… NOT (80’s joke thrown in for effect). If you look around your life and your abode you will realize that you have what you need to survive. A roof over your head, a decent job, and (hopefully) another person to keep you happy. Everything else is gravy and sprinkles on top. If you look at it all with what you have vs. what you have not your outlook and your pocketbook will be a lot happier.

4. Nothing but the cash: Learn to live off the greenbacks. Going for groceries? Cash only. Going for Gas? Cash only. This is a great way to get an idea of the physical amount of money you are spending. You will subconsciously get greedy and want to spend less. For some reason parting with a bunch of Benjamins is a lot harder than a single credit card swipe.

5. Rinse, Lather, Repeat: Are you living a LIE? You should be. Go to your computer desktop right now and start A-LIE file for July 2007: Assets Liabilities Income and Expense. 8 columns. First one is the title of the asset, 2nd is the cash amount. So and so forth for the liabilities, Income and Expenses. As much as possible document every dollar that you know about that is coming or going in the house. Look it over and see where you can trim the fat. Then add a reminder to your calendar to update it monthly starting in August. Make sure you keep the ones from the previous month. Once you have a picture of what your numbers are doing you will subconsciously pay more attention to the dollars you spend every day. You can’t help it.

I am curious as to your top 5 tips. Let’s hear ’em!

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