Back when I was in high school, I had a part time job in a local hotel which I started working at when I was 13. As I still lived at home I had no bills to pay other than my monthly phone contract, so you would have thought I would have quite a lot of money saved up. Wrong. I wish I had been more sensible with my money back then, but every Sunday when I left work with my weeks wages and tips in my back pocket I would be thinking of what I would spend them on after school the next day! You see, instead of saving my wages I would head into town with my best friend or skip lessons in the afternoon to go shopping. We would spend all of our money on clothes which soon became a bad habit!
When I was in college I remember signing up to a get a NewLook card which was one of my biggest regrets as I only finished paying it off last year, nearly 10 years later! Of course, it didn't stop there, I was soon offered a River Island card and thought great I don't need to spend my wages and can buy clothes with this instead, then came the Debenhams card and soon I found myself in over £1500 worth of debt just from three store cards! I know it may not sound like a lot of debt but it's so hard to get yourself out of it if you keep on paying the minimum payments when you don't have much spare cash after paying your rent and bills.
My mum and dad did kindly pay off my RiverIsland one which was around £300 which I did have to pay them back and I did start to pay off the others but would always spend on them again. I wish I had just cut up the cards there and then. In 2012 I opened an Argos card to buy a DSLR camera and I've only just finished paying the last payment this month as I had only been paying off the minimum payment each month to begin with which was a big mistake.
Looking back I wish I had never been so stupid to sign up to the store cards and I definitely won't be ever again. I am now debt free, and it hasn't been easy having unnecessary bills to pay each month but now I am over £100 better off a month since I've finished paying them all off. I'm quite lucky that it's never effected my credit rating as I'm hoping to save up for a mortgage but if you are ever in the position where you have a bad credit rating due to store or credit cards you may wish to consider checking out Glo who offer guarantor loans between £1,000 and £7,000 to people who know they can make the repayments but may not have the best credit rating.
Here are 10 things I did to help pay off my debt:
1. I switched my utility bills to save me £400 a year
I used Quidco (Ebates if in the US) to compare my car and home insurance bills as well as my gas and electricity bills and immediately switched companies. This has not only helped me to save money off each bill but I also got a decent amount of cashback too!
2. I negotiated my bills to save me £300 a year
We all know you can haggle with the price of a car, but did you know that you can also negotiate your mobile phone contract and internet bill too? I did this with my Vodafone bill last year, I was paying £60 a month and called them up and asked if they could do anything to help me reduce my bill. They managed to knock off £15 a month getting it down to £45 saving me £180 a year!
I also rang up Sky last March and said I wanted to leave as I had found a cheaper deal, so they offered me a cheaper price plan for my internet, phone and Sky package and I decided to stay with them which saved me another £120 a year.
3. I signed up to survey websites
I signed up to sites such as InboxPounds, and Swagbucks to complete small tasks such as surveys, watching videos and searching the web and any money I earned from those would go straight towards my debt repayments. Although it wasn't much but even an extra £20 a month can be a massive help.
4. I used Cashback sites when shopping online
Of course making cuts to purchases is the obvious way to say money but I still had to make purchases for Christmas and birthdays. I was already signed up to Quidco (Ebates if in the US) and Top Cash Back but didn't use them properly so was missing out on a lot of cashback. Now every time I shop online I make sure I go through one of these sites and earn cashback. I also installed the Quidco cashback reminder extension which has made sure I don't missed out on any cashback when I land on a new website. I've made over £500 cashback in the past year and I would transfer £20 here and then to pay off my store cards when I had money available for payment
5. I got £100 for opening a new bank account
I have been with HSBC since I was 12 however I decided it was time to open a new bank account so I could keep my bills separate from my blog work and find it helpful to have multiple bank accounts to help me save. Believe it or not, there are actually banks that will give you money just for opening a new bank account with them! You can also get cashback for opening a new bank account through Quidco.
6. I hosted Instagram sales
We always have stuff we want rid of or taking up too much room around the house so why not sell some of it online. As well as eBay I have been selling some of the kids clothes via an Instagram sale! These have been hugely popular and I've made over £500 from just two of these! Which reminds me I need to do another soon! To find out more about hosting your own Instagram sale check out my post here.
7. Focus on one debt at a time
I started by paying off the most expensive debt first. Although it may be tempting to paying a little extra on each debt each month, it's actually a lot easier to see the results if you pay off one card at a time. I would put down an extra £50 here and there on my highest store card and this helped me keep motivated as I could see progress happening! Prior to this I had only been paying a small amount off on each debt which means I never noticed any difference. Once one card is paid off, move onto the next.
8. I didn't buy groceries for a week
This may not be possible for every household but how about not buying the grocery shop one week a month where you don't buy anything except necessities such as milk and bread. Search your cupboards and freezer and cook with what you already have in the house. You could easily save £50 or more during the month with this trick depending on how much your average weekly shop is. Why not start meal planning and saving any left over meals and freezing them so you have extra meals during that week. Skipping a weeks's worth of shopping will be a huge help to paying off your debt. I've done this a couple of times now over the past year and instead of getting our shopping delivered I went into the supermarket and picked up milk, bread, some fruit and vegetables and used up what I already had at home. I managed to save just over £50 each week by doing this.
9. I cut back on the luxuries
There are a number of ways to save money each month from cutting back on luxuries. I reduced out sky package and got rid of the movie package as we never really watched films. As much as it's convenient to eat out and get takeaways, I cut back and will now only have one takeaway a week and will only eat out once a week. I used to spend over £100 a week on eating out and takeaways which is just ridiculous!
10. I cut up my cards
And lastly, I cut up all of my store cards which stopped me from using them again! If I wanted to buy anything from those shops, I would pay in cash or use my debit card instead. I must admit it was a little defeating having to pay for the items there and there instead of buying what I liked and paying it off months later but I felt so much better afterwards knowing that I wouldn't be in debt.
How did you pay off any debt you've occurred?
* This is a collaborative post however all opinions are my own.
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