Debt: Time to turn your financial woes around
“Good riddance 2020” and a well-deserved “Hello 2021” to you (and your finances). The previous year has sure been tough not only mentally, physically but also financially. Excessive bills and the responsibility of paying off undue credit are not at all easy and desirable after a year of first-time (or, all-too-familiar) financial blows and uneasy pandemic territories. But, as tough as it is, don’t you think that your new 2021 year is the ideal time to start and turn your financial situation around? It’s time for you to intervene if your financials are not portraying and reflecting what they’re supposed to. The sooner you manage your finances properly, the better your chances are of getting out of excessive debt.
“The shocking outstanding consumer credit numbers as indicated by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) paints a scary picture. Being proactive and adding some urgency to your financial New Year’s resolutions and goals should, therefore, be your top priority right now. It is the ideal time, after a disappointing 2020 year, to avoid being or becoming part of debt-filled statistics. It’s best to start or keep your mini-economy going, instead,” says Carla Oberholzer – debt adviser at DebtSafe.
Here are four financial fixers, pointers, goals or New Year’s resolutions – call it what you may – that you can incorporate in your financial goals this 2021:
Budget properly & make alterations if and when necessary
It is important to keep track of your finances and what better way than to have a budget outlined according to YOUR needs for each specific month. Start with your net income minus your long-term investments and/or short-term savings and, minus your various expenditures (this will include necessities and your debt obligations) that can equal either a surplus (+) or a minus (-) total that you have left. You will realise if you are on the right track or if you have to do something drastic to get on the ‘financial straight and narrow’ again. If you decide that you have to make amendments to your monthly budget, do it sooner rather than later. Each month brings its own ‘financial responsibilities’, such as school accessories, house or car maintenance. Your budget has to, therefore, be amended accordingly.
‘Take stock’ of your income, necessary expenditures and avoidable costs
It is of utmost importance that your expenses do not exceed your income amount. If you have your budget ready – great. But, NOW is also the time to tackle those unnecessary ‘spending leaks’:
- Print out your latest bank statement or the previous three months’ statements and get out that magnifying glass and calculator of yours. Make sure that all the things you are paying for currently is indeed needed.
- Identify costs that should have been avoided AND that you have to exclude or delete from your budget from now on.
- Avoidable expenses can be things like those takeaway meals, other luxuries such as excessive shopping sprees or paying for services you do not use or need (like a service agreement, for example, a gym contract).
- When it comes to your medical aid, life insurance, pension fund or similar plans and offerings – regularly revise your contracts and providers. You never know where you can save a bit of money when it comes to the same type of plan or package. If you don’t do your research well and give something similar for the same price, a try – you’ll never know.
Up your level of involvement
Remember, actions speak louder than words. Are you involved with what is and what has been going on in your finances? Don’t be an ostrich and think, that if you stick your head in the ground, all of your financial woes will poof and disappear. Here are a few tips to ensure your involvement:
- Keep regular track of your budget.
- Compile shopping lists and stick to them.
- Attempt high and low NOT to use your store or credit cards to pay for living costs, such as fuel or groceries.
- Try each month to pay off your debt bit by bit. You can start with the Snowball Method – firstly paying off that store card with the lowest instalment amount. Or, if you are a bit more persistent, you can try the Avalanche Method – when you pay, say a credit card with its high-interest rates, off first.
- Be proactive and keep your mini-economy stable. You can boost your income level if you see that you won’t be able to make ends meet. Be creative and use the skills and resources that you have available.
To get out of debt is not a one-man show
Lastly, don’t go it alone. There are financial planners, advisors, and bankers available to help you. In severe indebted cases the NCR, as well as debt counsellors, can guide and assist you to safely fix your over-indebted situation.
Kickstart your 2021 year with a clean slate. Especially, when it comes to YOUR goals, YOUR choices, YOUR pro-action, and YOUR perfect TIMING to get your financials on track again. Turn a new leaf and try not to look for excuses or waste time pondering over past misfortunes. Why the wait?