Life has a nasty habit of throwing us curve balls. Just when we think we’re getting head, a spanner is thrown in the works and we find ourselves back at square one.
I personally know the feeling, having struggled for many years with debt that I couldn’t shift for love nor money (till I used these tips), with dreadful jobs, and a low income.
Regular readers will know, however, that things have changed over the years. I have successfully paid off my debt. I have increased my income by becoming more valuable at work and starting a number of profitable blogs (read my tutorial here).
Most recently I felt comfortable enough to relocate to beautiful rural France for the summer – and all thanks to finally getting ahead on my finances.
If you’re struggling each month to make ends meet and never seem to gain control of your finances then let me show you how I finally got ahead with my finances…
Balloon Your Income
One of the hardest things in life is when your income doesn’t match your outgoings. Every month you struggle to make ends meet, or even have to rely on loans and credit cards to reach your next payday. That’s no way to live.
The first thing I did to get ahead on my finances was therefore to do whatever it took to increase my income. Now, I’ll be honest – it was a lot of hard work and there was plenty of pain along the way, but sometimes you have to stick your neck out to make progress.
Firstly, I accepted the highest paying job I could find – even though it wasn’t something that I wanted to do. I ended up hating virtually every minute of it, and barely had any time to myself as I was working 60+ hours a week. I’ve written about the experience here.
There were benefits to this crazy lifestyle, however. Firstly, my income was high enough that I could worry less about money and really start improving my finances.
Secondly, I knew that job was only ever going to be temporary – which helped to keep me motivated. And thirdly, that salary helped me to negotiate my next job, allowing me to not only match but even exceed that income after a few years.
Alongside taking on whatever job would improve my finances I also started a number of blogs. In my opinion blogging is one of the most realistic ways for normal people like me to earn extra money on the side. No matter how busy you are a blog can fit around your hectic lifestyle. If you’d like to learn just how easy it is to start a blog then please click here to read my full tutorial.
The end result of all this effort, however, was incredibly powerful. Finally I had money leftover at the end of each month, which I could then start applying to getting ahead financially.
Change Your Lifestyle
If you’re struggling to get ahead in your finances then it’s important to realize that your lifestyle is likely partly to blame. The start of my bigger financial issues were when I split up with an ex-girlfriend who moved out of our expensive (but lovely) rental – leaving me to either move out or stump up the full rental.
I loved that house, so like a fool I staggered along for months on end, struggling to make ends meet.
Eventually it was all too much and I decided to throw in the towel. I went to the other extreme, and rented a room off a friend for a tiny fraction of what I paid for the house. While it wasn’t something I wanted to do, it was a necessity.
The fun thing was that once I’d got used to my temporary living arrangements, I grew to like my lack of responsibility, and all the cash I had left at the end of the month. This temporary lifestyle change made an immediate impact in my finances, and contributed to me being able to finally get ahead.
The lesson is this: if your lifestyle is too expensive and is causing you financial grief then change it. It might not be a comfortable experience, but you can always make further changes in the future once your finances are on the up-and-up.
Cut Your Expenses Like It’s an Emergency
Just like changing your lifestyle more generally, also look at ways to cut the amount of money that you’re spending. Sign up for cashback websites like Ebates, which give you money back in exchange for your purchases, and can quickly add up. Sign up for free here.
Eliminate everything but the most essential expenses from your budget to free up cash each month. Again, this only has to be done temporarily; once you’ve managed to get ahead of the curve you can have your beloved cable TV package and magazine subscriptions back again.
For now, however, sweat it out for a few months to save the cash. You even find – as I did – that you don’t even miss the things you’ve given up half as much as you expected and you might even opt to go without them for evermore.
Rapidly Downsize Your Debt
Carrying plenty of debt would derail virtually anyone’s plan for a strong financial future. Hopefully if you’ve managed to increase your income and downsize your spending you’ll be a position to really cut into your debt.
Remember that companies like National Debt Relief can help to reduce the debt you owe, making it easier to become debt free as quickly as possible. Just think about how much more free you will feel with none of those debts hanging around your neck.
Click here to read my simple five step guide to paying off debt, or find ways to getting motivated to pay off debt here.
Turn Saving Money Into a Game
Downsizing your spending and giving up the things you look forward to is tough – there’s no denying that. But one way to lessen the blow is to try turning it into a game.
Personally I actually started to enjoy the transition period after I got started because I turned it into a challenge. Each month I would carefully track my debt, recording how much I had paid off, and what the outstanding balances were. My aim was to pay off a little more each month.
At the same time I would re-audit my spending at the end of each month, looking for further cuts that could be applied. This enabled me to spend ever less money, while paying off my debt faster and faster. I can assure you that such a challenge can become quite addictive!
Once you have increased your income, have paid off your debt and reduced your expenses you’ll find yourself in a much stronger financial position. From then on you can start to plan for the future, putting money aside that will stand you in good stead in the future.
As you can see, while getting ahead in your finances can take time and effort, as I myself have found it really is within your reach. All you need to do is get started down the road, and in a few years time you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about while you enjoy your new life of freedom and abundance.