How to Manage Debt with Inflation on the Rise

Debt Management with Inflation

You’ve likely felt the effects of inflation already. Your grocery and gas bill probably felt it first. Suddenly it costs a lot more to feed the family or fill your gas tank, but these are things we need so we have to adjust elsewhere, right?

One area many people struggle is managing debt during inflation. If your wages don’t keep pace with inflation (most don’t), then keeping up with your debts may feel impossible.

Here are a few ways to help you manage debt with inflation rising.

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How to Maximize your Spending Plan (AKA Budget)

Maximize Spending Plan

Get the Most for the Least by Shopping Carefully

Budgeting can be like strong tasting medicine – it’s one of the most challenging remedies to take, but its effectiveness cannot be denied.  Whether you’ve got money troubles or not, a budget will help your finances.  You don’t make a budget just to fix problems – you have to do it all the time.

A spending plan is more than just a list with numbers.  It’s a willingness to do things that may seem inconvenient at the time, but add up to a considerable advantage when you’re looking to cut costs, without sacrificing quality.

Here are some everyday actions you can take that will make your bottom line look better:

Check Prices
Ok, so you’ve decided to make a purchase, and you’ve budgeted for it.  Before you expend precious funds, make sure you’re getting the best value for your dollar.  Ask yourself the following:

“Can I save money by buying used?”  A lot of times, a used item will serve just as well as a new one.  Appliances, for instance, are often available used, many from dealers who will offer a warranty.  Clothing, too. Many discount stores offer name brand clothing, gently worn, at a fraction of the original cost.  If you’re ok with previously enjoyed clothes, you’ll find that you can start dressing really well for really cheap.

“Is another store having a sale on this item?”  Is the sale good enough to justify the extra travel time and expense?  Try to avoid paying more just for convenience.

“Is it less expensive online?”  Sometimes it’s worth having to wait a few extra days for delivery.

Prepare your Own Meals
We can’t stress enough just how much impact this one simple act can have on your bottom line.  Take out or delivery costs several times as much as preparing a similar item at home, and when you make it yourself, it’s how you like it.  Compare the savings to the time spend preparing meals, and it’s like you’ve got another job that pays really well.

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Living as a Couple – Time for the Talk

Your relationship is going well, and you take the big step to move in together. However, reality soon comes crashing down. Before you know it, the honeymoon is over, and you’re disagreeing about every little aspect of your lives together.

One of the biggest sticking points for couples is finances. You may find that you each hold completely different views about the importance of budgeting, or when you do budget, you disagree on what is or is not a priority. These are the times that will try your relationship, but the good news is, you can get through it and reach an accord.

First of all, there is no way around it – you need to be honest with each other. Discuss all your assets and debts, so there are no unpleasant surprises. You then need to decide whether to share financial responsibilities and to what degree. One person may be bringing a lot more debt to the relationship, which is why it is important to have this conversation early in the relationship.

Make sure to discuss your individual credit history, too. Your ability to borrow as a couple will be greatly impacted by your past spending. Don’t panic if your partner has taken out a lot of credit in the past; this is your opportunity as a couple to explore options for getting to a place of financial stability. Talk about setting a budget and goals for clearing debt, and decide on a ratio of responsibility for that debt.

While it is important that both of you contribute financially to your budget and the paying off of debts, you should also play to your strengths. The person who is better at managing monthly bills should take care of that side of your finances; however, it is important that both people in the relationship share the overall responsibility of maintaining the budget.

Compromise and communication are key to a strong financial relationship so make sure you discuss and come to an agreement on where your money is going and when. A relationship takes work, but by having this honest conversation early on and staying on track with budgeting and spending, you may find that your relationship is stronger for it.

Shopping for Christmas?

For many people, a Christmas shopping budget consists of whatever they can spare in the last months before the holiday. However, to have a truly magnificent Christmas, you really need to budget throughout the year. You will find the holiday season much less stressful, and you will find that you’re able to afford gifts that will bring a smile to everyone’s face. To help you stay within your budget this holiday season, here are a few simple tips:

Incorporate your spending into your monthly budget
By incorporating your Christmas spending into your monthly budget, you are essentially making that money untouchable. Treat it exactly as you would credit card fees; only instead of paying for past spending, you are paying for what you will spend in the future. Before long, your Christmas spending money will just become another part of your monthly budget.

Set aside a budget
Your Christmas budget is a little different than regular payments in that you will have to calculate what you need, given the time you have to save. Be realistic with your budget, and try to aim for saving enough to buy the items you need throughout the year. When you have spare cash that isn’t allocated to your budget, make a point of picking up cheaper items while you can afford to.

Allocate smartly
If you need to buy gifts for ten people, do not work under the assumption that each gift will cost the same. Gifts for smaller children do not cost as much as gifts for teenagers, for instance. Don’t forget that you will need to buy food and drink over the Christmas season, so make sure to incorporate those costs into your budget, too.

Give yourself plenty of time to do your research
There is no point blindly choosing an amount to save each month, only to find that you have woefully under-budgeted. Do your homework, before you sit down to work out your budget, and you will have a realistic monthly figure to aim for. Some clever detective work will help you determine what’s on everyone’s Christmas list.

Don’t forget to download our Holiday Gift Giving Planner to help you through the holiday season.

Have a Debt Free Christmas This Year

We can all relate to how frustrating it can be to start a new year with last year’s Christmas bills.  With Christmas being only a few more weeks away, we can be prepared for shopping season by planning ahead and creating a budget to work off of.

Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget this Christmas:

  1. Create a Budget – if you shop without a list, it is easy to overspend or give in to impulse shopping.  Download our Holiday Gift Giving Planner that can help you get organized.
  2. Comparison Shop – starting Christmas shopping early also means you have more time to shop around and check prices at different stores.  Many online stores offer discounted prices or one day only sales.
  3. DIY Gifts- there are many gifts that you can make to give as gifts that won’t break your budget. You can tailor the gifts to the person you’re making it for – all the more thoughtful!

Careful planning can help you debt free – you just need to invest some time now to get organized.

Get your Finances in Shape with Budget Bootcamp

Deciding to set up a budget is the easy part of organizing your finances; doing it effectively
is where things begin to get tricky. Every day we hear from clients who say they attempted to
budget, only to find that they were no better off at the end of each month. It is an extremely
frustrating position to find yourself in, and one that seems hopelessly irresolvable. However,
we at Creditaid know from experience that budgeting works, as long as you have the drive,
the right tools and a well executed plan.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, so what works for your friends and family may
not work for you. We have always been conscious of this, which is why we have created a
number of tools to suit every need. With the Creditaid Budget Bootcamp, however, we have
taken the battle against financial hardship to a new level. The strategy we are bringing to you
today will take you step by step through a comprehensive budgeting plan, aided by many of
the tools we use to help our clients on a daily basis.

The Budget Bootcamp consists of a free five day plan, delivered to you by email. At each
stage you will receive tips and advice on creating a budgeting plan and prioritising your
finances, as well as access to tools that will help you along the way. We appreciate that you
may have questions that are not addressed in the plan, but don’t worry, we won’t leave you to
fend for yourself. Each email you receive will contain links to relevant help pages and tools,
along with a link that you can use to contact us by email. Subscribe today and look out for
your introduction email, which will guide you through the first steps on the road to financial
freedom.

Consumer Obsession Leads Us to Over-spending

The desire to “keep up with the Jones’s” has become more than a social status issue for many people.  Also, it is very easy to get caught up in this during the holiday season. It has become a catalyst for overspending that has consumers running to banks and other lenders looking for ways to finance their purchases. This issue also has countless consumers loaded up with credit card debt so steep it may take them a lifetime to get out of it.

Give your financial literacy a good double-check, and if you are not already practicing the following financial practices, now is a great time to start today:

  • Pay bills on time and balance your check book each month. You can’t know how much you can afford to spend if you don’t know how much you currently have to spend.
  • Stop buying on impulse. If you want something, rather than charging it on your credit card and paying interest, save for the next few month and buy it when you have the money.
  • Always pay more than your minimum balance on credit cards: Get rid of them as soon as possible. You will save money on interest and have more to save for the future.
  • Vow to maintain only “good” debt. This is the type of debt that will increase your net worth: A mortgage on an affordable home, a car loan, or college debt. These will either increase your creditworthiness or make you more employable so you are able to earn more and keep debt to a minimum.
  • Always include some savings in your budget. Many short-sighted people are unable to see their needs after retirement and don’t save. This results in financial difficulty during their declining years.
  • Find out what you don’t know about finances—and learn it. Despite the flood of information on financial management, people don’t take the time to learn.

Finally, in order to put a stop to this financial madness keep in mind the media pull for spending and don’t be drawn into the hype. By being savvy shoppers and savers, the overspending and debt can stop.

Getting Your Financial Life in Order

Just as spring is often the time that we clean-out and reorganize our homes, it is a good time to bring some order to our financial lives as well. We’ve put together a few tips to help you do just that.

1. Balance your checkbook. For some people, this may be a ‘duh’ statement, but for others it is actually a big step. If you have not been balancing your checkbook with your monthly bank statement each month, now is the time to start. Knowing that the balance in your checkbook is accurate can relieve a lot of stress and save you plenty of money in overdraft fees. If you’re having trouble getting it balanced, take it into your bank and ask them for help. They can help you get to a good clean starting place for the spring.

2. Write out a monthly budget. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed, just start by listing out all your monthly bills and the average amounts due each month. Then add in budget amounts for groceries, fuel for your vehicles and other expenditures you make that do not come to you in bill form, like entertainment, giving and clothing. Schedule when each bill will be paid on a calendar, based on its due date and when your income comes in.

3. Make an appointment for credit counseling. There are experts available to help you sort through your finances and give you the advice you need. Pick up the phone and make an appointment with one of our credit counselors.

4. Open a savings account. Even if you don’t have much to put into it, open a savings account and begin the process. Determine an amount to deposit into it each week or each month. Perhaps you’ll want to set aside a few dollars from each pay check, or maybe you’ll do the ‘save my change’ game and deposit your extra change each week. No matter how small it is, begin the process of building a savings account for yourself.

These are just four simple steps to help get your financial life in order and heading in the right direction. Spring is as good a time as any to start fresh.

Time to Rein in Spending

April showers bring May flowers is the old saying. The spring rains wash away the dingy gray of winter and usher in the beautiful bright colors of tulips and daffodils. In much the same way, ‘reining’ in spending can release some wonderful feelings of exuberance and new life as well.

When we over spend and are behind on paying our bills, the stress mounts ,and each new month becomes one to dread, instead of to enjoy. By saying no to our old spending habits in several small ways, we can become free to relax and enjoy life again. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Make a shopping list and stick to it. If you didn’t write it on the list, you can’t buy it, that’s the rule with this one. That means you need to be very thorough when making out your list. It may take you a while the first few times, but you’ll get used to. You’ll be surprised how much it will help you just to have that sheet of paper that tells you what you can buy and can’t buy when you enter a store.

Don’t carry your credit card with you. If you have credit cards, leave them at home. If you don’t have them with you, you are less likely to spend money that you don’t have. Only put the credit card in your purse or wallet when you know that you will need it for a specific purpose.

Gifts. If you are a generous gift giver but your finances are out of control, this may be an area you need to rein in. Set yourself a budget for birthday and holiday gifts. Let your family know that they shouldn’t expect the same extravagance in gifts that they have received before. They’ll understand and you’ll find your bills much easier to pay.

Decrease your dining expenses. You don’t necessarily need to quit going out to dinner entirely, but you can begin to cut back. Start bringing your own lunch to work, instead of going out for lunch every day. Choose your dining establishments for their dollar value and not just their ambiance. Look for the specials and coupons in your local paper for area restaurants.

These are just four easy tips to begin reining in your spending before it gets totally out of hand. Every little bit that you can trim off, is money in your pocket.