Debt is an ever-increasing problem for countless Americans with a number of repercussions. It makes people feel stuck, creating a huge toll on their emotional well-being. Getting out of debt can be an extremely stressful and difficult experience. That’s why it’s important to avoid getting into debt in the first place. Here are five tips on how to not get into debt.
5 Tips to Prevent Getting into Debt
- Pay with cash. Use cash whenever possible. The less you rely on credit cards, the more you will prevent from getting into credit card debt. Most credit cards come with high interest rates and penalties for missed payments. Unless you’re able to pay your credit card balance in full every month, consider using cash for most purchases.
- Avoid impulse spending. Be careful with discretionary expenses. Aside from using a credit card, one of the main reasons why people get into debt is overspending. Try to stay within your spending limits and only buy what you need. Of course, you can reward yourself every once in a while, especially when you reach financial goals! Learn how to identify your spending triggers by identifying self care vs impulse spending.
- Build an emergency fund. By creating an emergency fund, you can rely less on credit cards or be stuck in a bad situation if an unexpected event were to occur. There are a few different ways to go about starting an emergency fund. As a rule of thumb, you should save enough to cover six to nine months’ worth of expenses. Check out this video on how to build an emergency fund for a step-by-step guide.
- Budget. Budgeting is crucial for not only preventing getting into debt, but getting out of debt. Creating a budget will allow you to have a better sense of your income, expenses, debts, and whether you have any spending money left after you pay your bills. Use ACCC’s budgeting worksheet to help you get started. After a few months of using this worksheet, you can begin to analyze how much you are really spending on your living expenses. See if you can reduce these costs by either eliminating such expenses or doing comparison shopping.
- Use credit responsibly. If you don’t have a credit card, you most likely won’t get into debt. However, the key to using credit is proper money management. Always pay your balance off in full and on-time each month to avoid accrued interest and late fees. Although there is no magic number to how many credit cards you should have, you must use your credit responsibly. Using your credit card the right way can allow you to get an excellent credit score. In turn, this can lead to better terms and conditions for obtaining major loans, such as mortgages, auto loans, etc.
If you are already in debt and struggling with your finances, speak with a certified counselor at ACCC today. Call 800-769-3571.