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Now if you think this is going to be an easy, quick fix to your money problems then you would be wrong. The last 12 months have probably been the most difficult time in my life this story isn’t without tears. This is going to get into the nitty-gritty of how I paid off £11,000 debt in 12 months and it hopefully might help you out too. Debt pay off is not for the faint-hearted or the lazy.
Let’s start from the beginning. I have always had a strained relationship with money ever since I was able to get lines of credit at 18. I have always had around £5,000 in revolving credit card debt and last year was when it took an all-time high. My debt climbed to £11k seemingly unknowingly, like Japanese Knotweed it was invasive and causing structural damage. It started to become uncontrollable.
The debt was a mixture of credit cards, overdrafts, a US tax bill, and a finance agreement. The credit cards were completely self-inflicted and were a classic example of living beyond my means. The finance agreement was for my Invisalign braces, whilst there was no legal document I was obligated to pay in monthly instalments until the braces were paid off.
I didn’t see a way out and the only analogy that I can give is that I couldn’t breathe. I was holding my breath trying to stay afloat and dreaming of better days but expecting worse. For some people, £11k is not a lot of debt but I was hardly earning loads so it felt impossible to tackle.
I am lucky enough to be in a very fortunate position where I live at home and only pay a nominal amount in rent each month. I also do not have any dependents. I understand that not everyone has this luxury but these tips should work for you too.
Get Angry At It
I became so angry at my debt that I decided to attack it with gazelle-like intensity. I was so sick of being a slave to consumerism and buying things for short-term gratification only to experience buyers remorse a few days later and being back to square one.
Visual aids were great for me here. I wrote down each of my debts in £100 blocks. I would colour in the blocks in with a fancy golden paint pen with every £100 I paid off. Slowly building my golden wall away from debt.
You Are Not Above ANY Job
Lose your inhibitions. You are not above anything. There are extra ways to make money. Find them. You’re too tired? everyone is. There is opportunity out there for hard workers.
Promotional work – There are promotional companies that require staffing at events. This might be to hand out flyers/free samples or serve drinks, sometimes even to dress as a character for a promotional event. These are often well paid and will also cover expenses. Last Christmas I made an extra £1,000 in one month by handing out shots of gin in a department store whilst also performing my full-time role in marketing. It was exhausting but it was worth it when I was paid twice at the end of the month, even if didn’t have a day off for 40 days.
Online work – Now you are not going to get rich quick doing this. The pay is often mediocre at best but the work is easy. One platform I used was Appen Global. I would just record myself saying phrases and works for a speech recognition program to basically help Siri and Alexa understand different dialects. You can also transcribe podcasts, videos, and interviews. It’s boring work but someone has to do it.
Second job – Just get a second job. I know it is easier said than done but it is not forever. Think of the end goal. Some great seconds jobs are delivery drivers, leafleting, and grocery store work. Get into a habit of all your money from the second job going towards debt.
Fiverr – If you have a skill or hobby then turn that into a little side hustle. If you can design logos, or know another language then you can offer out your services.
Sell, sell, and sell
Sell everything, I mean it. Hold it in your hands and ask if you would rather have that item or the money that it could bring. Use the same gazelle-like intensity with this one.
Even if I was selling a t-shirt for £4 I would withdraw it straight out of my Paypal account and pay it straight off my credit card. Baby steps are so incredibly helpful when it comes to paying off debt. Chip, chip, chip away. I always looked for thresholds. Say my balance was £714.00 then I would pay £14.01 off the balance just to get it into that £699.99 spot. It sounds silly but it was a great motivator for me.
Some great platforms to sell are eBay, Depop, and Facebook Market Place. They are where I have had the most success. For items like clothing you want eBay or Depop as they are easier to post. For furniture and electronics I like to use Facebook Marketplace because there are no fees attached and they are usually higher priced items.
0% Balance Transfer for Credit Card Debt
Now, a good credit score is a luxury and something that I really did put work into achieving. If you are in a position where you can get good credit offers then consider a 0% balance transfer card.
I transferred a £2000 balance to a 0% balance transfer card. The promotional offer on this card was for 21 months. This means that every single payment that I made each month was coming off the principal without accruing any interest.
The thing to watch out for here is charges, most banks will charge you to transfer your balance and this usually around 3% of the balance. In my case, it cost £60 to transfer from one card to the other. In the grand scheme of things, I saved hundreds more than that because that worked out to be like 2 months interest on the credit card. Balance transfer cards are best for larger balances.
Again, a good credit score is a luxury that many people cannot afford but keep checking back on your offers available using sites like Experian, Clearscore, and Credit Karma because your score changes every month and you can work on becoming eligible.
Once you transfer your balance, cut the card up. Do not spend on it because you will trigger interest on any money spent.
Lunch time debt
I do not want to go all boomer on your here but you have to learn to cook. Now, I was never one of those people who bought more than a Tesco meal deal for lunch but even that £3 is adding up.
Average £3.00 daily lunch – 261 x £3.00 = £783.00
Average £6.00 daily lunch – 261 x £6.00 = £1566.00
Average £9.00 daily lunch – 261 x £9.00 = £2349.00**people genuinely spend this much on lunch. It’s ludicrous.
On average there were 261 working days in 2019. 261 x £3.00 = £783.00. That is without a coffee or a snack. I get complimented on my meals all of the time and they are absolutely delicious and healthy. I have added some links below to recipes that I love that are easily freezable. You have just need to defrost in the fridge the night before and microwave at lunchtime. Each recipe makes around 4-5 meal portions and once you ave the initial ingredients each meal works out at less than 50p.
I very much live by the philosophy that I am at work to earn money and learn new skills. I don’t need to be, nor should I be spending that amount of money on lunch per day.
Eating out is special to me. I love the social aspect of it so I would much rather save my money and go out for a nice meal with friends or my partnet in the evening. I want to know that my money is going to good use and not just keeping me alive at work.
Make Meaningful purchases
Now sometimes when tackling debt pay off you do still need to buy large items. If you do need to buy a big-ticket item then just be smart about it. Use a cashback credit card, I use my American Express Cashback Card. Be sure to pay it off straight away so that you do not accrue interest. You can also purchase through sites like TopCashback or Quidco to get a little bit of money back on your purchase. I have a blog post here on the best ways to use cashback. Be sure to always look for voucher codes as well.
That is my list, for now of how to tackle debt pay off. I will keep it updated though because I am sure that I haven’t covered everything. Remember, debt is a stressful journey and in the past year I have experienced some of the lowest lows of my life but you have to just keep pushing through. Trust me, it’s worth it in the end.
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