According to a recent survey carried out by The Money Charity, 8.9 million people borrowed more money due to Coronavirus. They also found that the average household debt in the UK is £60,720 – that’s a large sum of money to pay off.
So, how can do you stop spending when you are trying to pay off debt?
When I was paying off my debt, it seemed that no matter where I looked, other people around me were buying all the things they wanted, whenever they wanted!
Sometimes it really tempted me to splurge, or even worse, to get my credit card out and abandon my Debt Free Journey altogether. Especially as I knew this would continue for 2 years while I was working hard to get out of debt. Nobody has an iron will that lasts for 2 years, so it was inevitable that at some point I would crack!
It was pretty early on that I realised that I had to come up with some ways to avoid that temptation altogether, or I would end up spending more than I had and getting into even more debt.
So, we came up with these rules on what to do to avoid temptation while paying off debt.
Know Your ‘Why’
This is probably the most important thing that you can do while you are paying off your debt. Unless you have a really good reason for doing this, you more than likely won’t be able to stick at it for long.
You may already think that you know your why, but maybe ask yourself what it is about your Why that motivates you to work towards being debt-free? For example:
- I want to get out of debt so that I have more money. Why do you want more money?
- So that I can save it instead of using it to pay off debt. Why do you want to save it?
- I want to save money so that I can buy a house. Why do you want to buy a house?
- To have financial security, to be able to budget for my family…And the questioning continues.
What was originally ‘I want to have more money’ is developed further. Only then will you know your true ‘Why’.
Give yourself some fun money so you don’t feel deprived
Nobody can live without any sort of ‘treat’ long term. Allow yourself some ‘fun money’. This an amount that you put in your budget every month that you get to spend on what the hell you want. I’m not talking £500 to buy a new armchair though! It’s more like £30 a month to buy a new console game, go to the cinema, or £10 a month to spend on a new book every month.
How much you get to spend every month will be determined by how much your income is, how much debt you have and how quickly you want that debt gone.
If you need help working this out, you’ll need to write a budget.
Unsubscribe from newsletters or emails from your favourite stores
Personally, I could not cope with seeing all of the sales and offers that were on at my favourite shops. It felt like I couldn’t escape from being sold something, even in the comfort of my own home! So, I unsubscribed from every shop that tempted me, which was pretty much all of them.
As well as unsubscribing to these emails, I also deleted all the payment details that I had stored on all of the places I normally shopped online. From delivery services (UberEats, I’m looking at you) to Amazon. I deleted all of my payment cards. While that doesn’t stop you from actually visiting the site, it makes checking out and paying for anything significantly more time-consuming. If you are anything like me, that will be enough to make you not bother spending.
Don’t visit the shops!
This is a fairly obvious one, but if you don’t want to spend any money, then don’t go to the places where spending is not only easy but pretty much encouraged. For some of you (and I speak from experience here!) going to the local Mall or High Street has become part of your weekend routine.
I used to head to my local shopping centre, go straight to Café Nero, grab a coffee, then walk around the shops. I’d easily spend upwards of £70 and come away with not much to show for it.
These days I find something else to do, preferably something with no cost attached. In the nicer weather, I’ll head out into the garden and relax with a book, or I’ll take my dog on a nice long walk.
Just find a free activity to replace that Saturday morning routine and save the shopping centre trips for when you actually NEED something.
Hopefully, these tips will help you as much as they helped me reach my financial goals. It can be so hard to resist the urge to spend, especially when your friends and family are spending money without worrying about it.
But just keep your eyes on the prize, it’s worth it. I promise!
James Banerjee is a Senior Account Manager who graduated from the University of Kent in 2014. He works in SEO on clients such as HSBC UK and Nestle and he has a keen interest in personal finances and money-saving advice.