Someway somehow most of us, especially the middle class work for the banks. Our perceived progressive lifestyles are purely funded by the banks.
The house is on mortgage or rented, the car is bought with a loan, home appliances funded by loans.
With interests as high as between 30% and 40% in especially developing countries, many of us have definitely started life on the wrong foot.
If you are not intentional about getting out of debt, you would spend the rest of your life in servicing debts in a cycle which would only stop when you are dead.
So the question is: How do you Keep Out of debt?
#1 STOP COMPILING DEBTS
The first step is to stop spiraling into the abyss of debt in the first place. If you have a cart which malfunctions because the load it carries is too much, you don’t resolve it by increasing the load.
Because loan acquisition is the easiest way out when we are faced with financial difficulties, we normally default to it when we are financial crises. If you are already overburdened, determine not to add to your loans. It may be very difficult and would require some sacrifice, but you have to pull the plugs now.
#2 IT IS TIME TO JETTISON
When you are in a sinking boat, the first thing the captain will order is to jettison some of the goods to keep the boat afloat. At that moment you don’t contemplate how valuable those good are, after all nothing comes close to the value of a human life.
In the same way, you should consider yourself as a ship on the waters of financial independence carrying containers called loans. When the loans get too heavy, you need to start getting rid of some of the loans. Focus on the high interest ones first. If you are lucky you can find lenders with lower interest rates to take over your current loans.
#3 STOP THE LEAKS
A good ship with just a tiny little leak can easily sink. In your moment of financial distress you need to evaluate which of your possessions take the most of your expenses.
It could be your car. The truth is that most of us hardly make much use of our cars. The routine is to take it to work, park for eight hours and then drive back home. The truth is that most of us can do without having our own cars. A public transport or joining a colleague will help you save money on fuel and maintenance, an expense that can take between 10-20% of your net income.
So here is the catch, if you sell the car, you would be able to pay most of the expensive debts. On top of that, you will have an extra 10-15% of your income as savings to further service the rest of your loans.
If you have to move from a 3 bedroom house into a 2 bedroom apartment, see it as a necessary sacrifice to be able to secure your financial future.
#4 BEWARE OF THE LITTLE FOXES
Normally there are always this small expenses which we hardly take note of. It can add up to 10% of our monthly net salaries. In the times of financial crises, you can’t afford to leave anything to chance.
For example if you are in the habit of taking your female colleagues to lunch every day, you have to stop. You may have to trade down your taste of drinks and food in this crunch time as well.
I remember that I had to abandon a company of friends I used to hang out with over the weekends. I realized I was the only who paid for the drinks when we went out. Most of them over indulged and I had to be footing those unnecessary bills. So I decided to quit and was surprised how much I started saving. You are not obliged under anyway to be Mr. Nice when you are experiencing leakage in your own financial world.
#5 CHOOSE FINANCIAL STATURE OVER SOCIAL STATUS
We are in times where the façade of labels, class, and social prestige attracts the indulgence of those who have no business getting involved.
When you are in financial crisis, go for good products instead of labels; be mindful of where you shop as well. A personal item can cost as much as five times depending on where you choose to shop.
Forget about your colleagues and the clichés which comes with your perceived status. IN the end, what will be the point of impressing everyone else except you?
You don’t need those designer shoes and clothes and perfumes. You don’t need to sit on that VIP area when you hang out. You don’t have to travel outside for holidays if you can’t afford it. In the end, nobody cares. It is better you have a reputation of being thrift and yet financially independent than to have a social status with an empty bank account.
Live within your means and don’t borrow to spend on yourself. It will be the worse decision you ever took.
#6 GET SOME FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE
When I hear people say that they want to be financially successful, the question I ask them is “what knowledge about finances have you acquired’? Most of them have no idea of how money works and hence financial independence remains only but an illusion.
The truth is that the lifestyle of the rich produces by the media is mostly far from truth. Hollywood portrayal of the rich and wealthy is a façade.
Most rich people though they love to give, hate to spend. They believe in the power of compound interest and live way below their means. Unfortunately you won’t know the truth until you make an intentional effort to educate yourself in financial matters. Learn a bit about accounting, attend some seminars and dedicate yourself to books which can enrich your knowledge on wealth and money.
#7 TRIGGER THE LAW OF SOWING & REAPING
I personally believe that any resource you have which is not enough to take care of your needs is a seed. What you do with seeds is that you sow some and wait for a bigger harvest.
Though it may sound illogical especially when you are battling debts, it works like magic. So do well to take some of the little money left on you and donate to a worthy cause in your community or local church. You will be surprised at the kind of financial favors that will come your way.
#8 LEARN TO SAY NO
As you grow up and it appears that you make a decent living, you will have all sorts of people trying to take money from you. These are the people I call “takers” They could be family members and friends who borrow money without any intention of paying or those who have resigned to their fate in life because they know they can rely on your apparent success. The truth is that things are not as they may see it, and you have to be bold to politely say NO, especially to closed ones who make unreasonable demands on you
The worst thing you could do is to take a loan for a family member or friend. They are not likely to pay in the first place and if they eventually do, who will take care of the interests on the loan? You of course.
So no is just as good an answer as yes. And when you are in a financial mess, you would have to get used to dishing it out without an apology
#9 SAVE /INVEST ONLY WHEN NECESSARY
Savings is a key requirement for long term financial independence. However when you are swallowed in debts, you need to be strategic on your decision to save.
Your key priority is to throw everything you got into servicing your debts. You should only put monies into savings or investments with a higher interest than that on your debts. What is the point in investing your money into an instrument which yields a return of 15% p.a if that of your debt is 25%? Most at times in moments like this, the best way to save is to pay off your debts.
#10 GET ANOTHER JOB IF POSSIBLE
Although many people don’t have the luxury of this option, it comes in handy if you can pull it off. There are two ways to this:
The first one is to find a different employer who will pay better salary for your skills set. The trick is to insist on a sign on bonus to defray some of your debts. Also you would have to stay within your previous budget and use the additional salary to service your debt.
Another way is to run two jobs, most of the time doing your own thing on the side. You may not generate enough from your additional job, but it could take care of basics like amenities and relieve some pressure of your tired back
So get to work now and find something else to supplement your current income stream
#11 INVOKE THE SUPERNATURAL
I know that the desperation of debts can easily land one on a suicide mission. When you feel overwhelmed and a sense of helplessness, you have to seek divine help.
The story of a an indebted widow who was at risk of losing her children to the lenders needed the intervention of Prophet Elisha to save her and the family from shame.
There is also the testimony of a business mogul who ran into serious debts and had no way out. The wife, a fairly new Christian convert, discovered the Lord’s Prayer and literally took the phrase “forgive as our debts as we also forgive…” as it were and prayed to God to forgive her husband his huge debts. Miraculously a long lost friend of her husband gives him a call and offers the husband a multimillion contact that takes him out of debt instantly. So miracles do work, and when you have hit the end of the road, don’t despair, go to God in prayer and believe that He is able to save you from your debts.
Tithing is also an ancient secret to wealth creation. It sounds and feels illogical but it works 100%. When you are in financial doldrums, it may be especially more difficult, but you have to trust God and His principles and you will come out victorious.
From the desk of ROL
All image credits: Google