If life was predictable it would be boring. Sadly, excitement comes both ways – ups and downs add spice to life. Sometimes you’re rolling free and living within your means and other times you’ll get into a bit of a mess with your finances. Let’s look at 10 ways to get out of debt. It’s better to sweat a little in the short term and live a little more in the long term isn’t it?

1. Do up a budget

Think carefully and realistically how you spend your money and where. Being realistic again, look at how you could spend your money wisely without life being boring and stressful. If you are in bad debt it may help to be boring for a few months or even a year to drag yourself out of it… Is there a major problem that needs resolving immediately like rent or mortgage arrears? Focus on sorting that immediately. It may help to get a short-term loan to keep a roof over your head or your car on the road.

2. What are your immediate problems?

Are you behind on essential payments? If you are making ends meet (just about) then you need to think about what the highest interest debts are. Credit cards are usually the most expensive debts you have – repay those as quickly as possible. After that you can focus on the less pressing issues such as overdraft fees and then any lower interest debts.

3. Consider a short-term loan to consolidate your debts

If you are clearing everything off in one hit over a few months then the short-term loan may allow you to have a big dose of being boring and quiet for a few months and being debt free at the end of it. Short-term loans can really help in these situations, and you can avoid late payment fees on your credit card debts by having a zero balance.

4. Cut back on fun!

Fun is elective, a roof over your head is compulsory. What subscriptions do you have online and for TV, the gym etc? Better to gain a bit of weight and pay off those debts than miss meals to make ends meet isn’t it? Even if not in such bad debt you’re wondering how to eat, it will be best to pass the bar or coffee shop on the way home from work without popping in for a $5 coffee or beer…

5. Try to switch to cash instead of credit as a method of payment

Ultimately, in using credit you’re paying someone else for the privilege of making ends meet. As you can probably appreciate right now interest repayments soon mount up yet cash costs nothing.

6. Shop carefully

Who cares if your friends and neighbours gossip about you if you eat supermarket cornflakes or don’t have the latest iPhone? On big ticket goods such as washing machines and TVs you can often haggle on the price.  

7. Utilise direct debit

If possible, have your employer pay you by direct deposit and have your essential bills paid by direct debit. You can, therefore, let the essential payments go in and out of your account without worrying too much about due dates and so on.

8. Sell what you don’t need

Auction sites such as eBay are very good for making a few bucks on goods you really don’t need. You’d be surprised at how much value someone may place on something gathering dust in your cupboard or wardrobe. Also, consider a cellphone recycling website such as Mazuma at the end of your contract – these can pay quite reasonable money for something you’ll never use again.

9. Consider negotiating repayment plans with your creditors

Lenders prefer to be paid their debts more slowly than have to chase you for every cent you owe them every month. While your credit score may be impacted, it may pay in the longer term to let that take a hit rather than being chased by insistent creditors all the time. You’d be surprised at how willing creditors are to help in these situations as ultimately they just want their money back. Show them your budget (see #1 above) and show exactly what you can repay against the debt you owe. In some circumstances they may even consider suspending interest – though this will have a big impact on your credit score so think carefully before asking for it.

10. Do you really need to live where you do?

Rents are rocketing in some cities, and you really shouldn’t pay more than 33% of your monthly income on mortgage or rent. If you have taken a pay cut or your landlord has written to you telling your rent is going up it may be an idea to move on.

With these sometimes more, sometimes less extreme examples you should be able to improve your disposable income and reduce your debts to the point that everything is manageable again.