As a country we have an issue with debt, despite improvement since 2008 Irish Households are still the fourth most indebted households in Europe behind Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.

By the end of September 2017 it stood at €141.8 billion. If we take an average that means that every person in Ireland owes €29,592. Every man, every woman, every child. In my opinion, that’s crazy.

We need to break the cycle of debt, and by debt I don’t just mean arrears on your loan or mortgage I’m talking about your personal loans, credit cards and overdrafts!

Make this year that you’re going to tackle your debt and become debt FREE. Here are my top tips to help you reach financial freedom.

1) Plan and Budget:

First and foremost, you need to sit down with pen and paper, or excel, and put down your income(s)* and your outgoings! This will show you how much you have coming in and going out. It should also highlight places you are overspending in!

To view my “Easy Steps to a Personal Budget” tutorial, click here.

 2) Cut back on spending.

Reduce your outgoings so that you can reuse that money and put it towards clearing your debt. Here are some simple, practical and easy to implement ways to save money:

  • Make your morning coffee at home, this can save you €900 a year
  • Take your lunch to work with you. If you buy a lunch every day that costs €5, you can save yourself €1,300 a year.
  • Buy a reusable drink bottle. Save the environment and few Euros.
  • Stop eating out. Invite your friends over for dinner, come dine with me style!
  • Switch Gas and Electricity. You can save hundreds a year by switching to another provider
  • Get rid of TV packages like Sky or Virgin. At minimum get rid of the channels you don’t watch or go one further and get rid of them completely in favour of cheaper options such as free to air or Netflix. These days you can watch everything online
  • Shop around for insurance. Don’t leave it to the last minute take the time and save money on your yearly premium.
  • Shop around for mobile providers. At the end of your contract look at every provider to see how has the best deals.
  • Plan your weekly shopping trips.Make a list and stick to it! Plan your weekly meals to use up as much of the fruit, veg and meat that you buy. It will also stop the impulse buys.

3) Use the Debt Ladder

The easiest way out of debt is to use the debt ladder. By tackling your debt in manageable chunks, you will get multiple small wins and a sense of accomplishment that means you will feel good and will continue to pay it off.

To view my “Debt Ladder” blog click here

4) Cash is King! Use cash not the debit card:

Cash is king! Give yourself a weekly budget and take that money out at the start of the week and make it last to the end. You will spend less as you can see and feel how much you’re spending.

5) Ditch the credit cards.

Shred the credit cards. You’ll never get out of debt until you stop making debt a way of life. Look at credit cards that offer 0% on balance transfer. This can be a smart way to pay off your credit cards quickly, but you need to be committed to paying off the balance within the 0% interest time frame.

6) Find another source of income

By earning even, a little extra, you can stop living pay check to pay check, pay off your debts, and start focusing on your bigger financial goals.

  • Ask for a raise. Why not?
  • Sell items on Facebook Marketplace or Done Deal. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Dig through your kids’ rooms and the abyss of your closet to find things you can part with to make some quick cash.
  • Start a side hustle. Starting your own business has never been easier! Do you have a hobby, or do you have a flair for making things? Make and sell your products online!

To view my “Another source of Income" blog click here

7) Learn to say, “No.”

It’s okay to say NO. No to nights out, no to the kids, no to expensive hobbies!  The word NO can be powerful. Embrace it and start using it!

8) Tell the kids you’re on a budget.

Talk to your kids about money, be open with them about what you do and what you don’t have room for in the budget. They don’t need to know the ins and outs of your financial situation, but they also need to learn the value of money along with the other life lessons that you teach them.

And remember: Never be afraid to use that magical “no.”

9) Try second hand shopping.

Kids grow out of clothes at the speed of light. It’s not worth it to go into debt for your two-year-old’s wardrobe. Check out second hand shops that sell pre-loved, good condition outfits for the kids or Facebook Marketplace or second-hand groups.

10) Visit the library.

Remember libraries? They have plenty of books and DVDs you can borrow for free! And they have free groups and activities for adults and kids.

Here’s one last tip!

Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses!

These days we spend more time thinking about how others are spending their money and too little time thinking about our own circumstances. You don’t have all the details on other people’s situation so just Focus on your own.

Try a couple of these tips and see if they work for you. Don’t try to implement them all at once as you could get overwhelmed, try a new one every week. Every time you make a saving make sure that you put it back into paying off your loan, credit card or overdraft.

Let me know how you’re getting on.