Want to start living a life without debt? You may scoff and think that it’s nearly impossible, but it’s actually realistic if you change some of your habits. Below are 15 habits of debt-free (and probably happier and less stressed) people.
1. They set a budget for everything.
Debt free people plan out their finances and know exactly where and how to spend their money. In addition to their rent or mortgage payments, they budget how much they’ll spend on groceries, clothes, hobbies, and social outings. They plan ahead and most importantly, stick to their budgets.
2. They don’t have multiple credit cards.
Sure the bank might entice you with a brand new credit card by adding a special reward or bonus points, but debt-free people rarely bother with having more than one credit card, if any at all. Having more credit cards means having more access to money that you’ll have to pay back. Why put yourself in that situation? The debt-conscious surely wouldn’t.
3. They watch their credit card limit.
What’s this about debtless people carrying credit cards around? We know, it’s unlikely. But usually, if you’re truly free of debt, then you know how to manage credit responsibly. Just know that when the credit card companies start throwing higher limits at you, be ready to say no.
4. They are honest about living within their means.
Thrifty people recognize and accept their financial situation. They don’t eat at fine restaurants, or buy new clothes often. They’re not afraid to be honest with themselves about what they should be spending money on. They’re patient enough and okay with waiting for a good sale to buy clothes, or waiting for special occasions to eat out at a fine dining restaurant.
5. They set high, but achievable, goals.
Everyone knows that many endurance athletes, the ones you see running marathons on a regular basis, are financially successful. But why? Because they set goal after goal, and dedicate their lives to achieving them. Likewise with the money-wise, the most well known personal finance bloggers set huge debt demolishing goals (some paying off upwards of $100K in debt!). And guess what? They achieved them.
6. They’re cheapskates, in a good way.
Debt-free people aren’t only frugal, but they’re smart too. They don’t just cut corners, like ordering coffee instead of a latte or ordering off the dollar menu. They make their own ready-made meals, and have coffee at home. They pack their own lunches, and regularly coupon and look for deals. If there’s a way to save money, they’re on it!
7. They maintain a savings account…for real.
Saving money for a rainy day is integral for the debtless life. They don’t just save sometimes, but they put at least 10% of every paycheck into a high-interest savings account so they actually make money for saving. If money gets tight, they still find a way to save. Even if it’s just 5%, or a few dollars, it’s money in the bank.
8. They organize their finances.
Whether they choose to meet with a financial planner, get help from an accountant friend, or use cool tricks to track their expenses, debt-free people make it a point to be organized. Having your finances in order means payments are made on time, budgets are set and met, and you always know where your money is going.
9. They window shop and browse fliers.
People who avoid debt don’t reflexively pay full price for anything, not even groceries. They might not be extreme couponers, but they’re always browsing fliers for low prices. They window shop to compare prices before making purchases, and if their budget allows for a splurge, they’ll wait until it goes on sale.
10. They pay with cash more often.
When you want to stay out of debt, it’s important to stop carrying plastic. Instead, keep cash handy for day to day purchases and shopping. Copying this habit keeps you from using your credit card and accumulating debt as you’re limiting yourself in what you’re able to purchase off the bat.
11. They cancel services they don’t need or use.
If they know they don’t use certain services enough to pay for them, debt-free people cancel them. Are they doing yoga at home? They’ll likely cancel their gym membership. Do they use Netflix or Hulu? Then they probably cancelled their cable service ages ago.
12. They plan gifts ahead of time.
Shopping for holidays and birthdays when you’re paying attention to your expenses means planning ahead. They aren’t sitting around in Black Friday lines with everyone else, they shop all year round. If there’s a good deal, shop all year round, especially when they find good deals on gifts. Think about it, if you’re buying a gift at the last minute for someone, you’re more likely to pick anything and may end up spending more. Budgeting gifts ahead of time will help you shop smarter.
13. They enjoy activities that don’t cost much.
Having fun doesn’t need to cost much, if anything. Debt-free people indulge in free activities, like hiking, biking, and staycations. They may organize potlucks with their friends instead of going out to eat, and look up local events that they can enjoy at no cost. Having fun doesn’t equal big spending, eating out and ritzy vacations. It’s another opportunity to save.
14. They do their own research and aren’t afraid to ask for help.
Asking for help or advice doesn’t faze those who want to keep a clean slate. But this doesn’t mean that they are dependent on others, either. They are responsible and proactive enough to do their own research, and don’t simply rely on a financial planner to handle it all. They aren’t afraid to ask for clarification on financial jargon they might not understand before signing on the dotted line. They also aren’t afraid to talk to their bank about getting lower interest rates, or asking forgiveness if they make a late payment.
15. They are not materialistic.
Finally, debt-conscious people don’t need the hottest iPhone–their phone works just fine. They don’t need to buy a ridiculously expensive couture brand name purse for every season, or show off their money to the Joneses. They are more confident in what they have, and aren’t attached to material items and flash. They’re mature enough to know when they can’t and shouldn’t spend on things they don’t necessarily need.
As with anything, if you want to change your life, you have to change your habits. Whether it’s budgeting wisely, or cutting out expenses you don’t need, copying a few of these habits will get you on the right track to debt-free–and fast!