Surviving the Millennial Debt-Crisis Trend

Our guest contributor is Rachel Mildred. Rachel lives in London with husband Joseph and their Welsh Terrier puppy. As well as navigating life as a millennial homemaker, Rachel is also a freelance lawyer, nutritionist, online business ower and founder of ‘Oh Your Glow’, as well as Trustee for grassroots charity, ‘Freedom from Poverty’.

Most of us have been there – living life in our mid-twenties and spending like there’s no tomorrow. Out into the big wide world of employment and salaries and trying to figure out our independent living costs.

But the truth was, that I acquired my first credit card with the most responsible of intentions.

I’d read up on how to build a credit rating and with my long-term vision of a mortgage, I proudly hit ‘submit’ on my first ever credit card application. It wasn’t long before I received a letter in the post with my shiny new card. And there it was: that £500 credit limit was my journey into adult financial responsibility. Or in hindsight, quite possibly the ‘gateway drug’ into the impending mountain of debt I would soon find myself in!

Still with the objective of building up my credit score for that first home, I spent and repaid, spent and repaid… As a model debtor, I was frequently offered a higher credit limit and went on to get a second card, and a third, all of which had enticing ‘interest free’ periods.

At one stage, I had a total credit limit of £33,000.00 across 4 different cards! I didn’t quite reach the limit, but quite honestly, not far off. I justified the debt to myself as I wasn’t living a lavish lifestyle, I was just quite simply living above my means. Spending a little more each month that I was earning; leaving a mounting compound effect of debt.

The first time I really took stock of my debt was when I got married just a few years ago. My new partner handled his finances like nobody I’d ever met at our age. He had a five-figure savings account, an ISA, a private pension, stocks and shares. I must say, aside from being a little intimidating, this was a rude awakening of my own sorry financial state.

My debt was always something that I would deal with ‘one day’ and as I was smart with my cards and juggling different interest-free offers, I constantly avoided penalties. It didn’t really feel like it affected me too much, and rather than facing it, I simply began living within my means so that the debt merely plateaued and almost blurred into the background.

But when the time came for my wealth-wizard partner to pop the question, it dawned on me that my financial burden would soon become our financial burden and that wasn’t something that I was prepared to bring into our new marriage.

The twelve months that ensued were some of the most challenging but rewarding of my working life. Not only did I manage to clear my five-figure debt, but also jointly save with my husband to pay for our wedding outright and take the honeymoon of our dreams to The Seychelles and Kenya!

I now have zero debt, an ISA, a separate tax account as I’m self-employed, and a healthy savings account. And most of all, I’m proud to say that I can finally class myself as that financially-responsible adult that my twentysomething self dreamt of becoming.

 

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3 new year’s resolutions for your finances (that you can actually keep) in 2017

 

Whilst New Year’s resolutions are always made with the best of intentions, the truth is that they often prove difficult to keep beyond the first few weeks in January. The main reason for this is that the goals we set ourselves are admirable but simply too lofty to achieve. It’s far better to choose a few small but achievable goals that offer incremental positive changes over time.

It’s the same with your finances, and what better time to resolve to sort out how you manage your money than straight after the indulgences of Christmas. Below are three financial New Year’s resolutions that are simple enough to keep up well into 2017, whilst also offering some real benefits for your bank balance.

  • Change your money mindset – this may sound like a big change, but it can be achieved over time through hitting one or two small goals. That £3 coffee you buy every morning before work might seem like a treat you can allow yourself, but if you can cut it out, that’s £15 a week saved, which means at least £60 a month you could put towards your savings for a long term goal.
  • Clear your credit card debt – if you can manage to keep the first resolution, then this one should be that much easier. Every penny you have on a credit card increases the interest you owe, so if you can concentrate your efforts on clearing your balance you’ll have more of your own money to spend, save or invest how you want. Paying a set amount each month that’s more than the minimum payment makes it more manageable, as well as reaching a balance of zero that much quicker.

Save for a rainy day – if you already save, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’re doing okay at managing your finances. But challenge yourself to do even better. Setting up a second savings account and ensuring you only use it for emergencies will protect you from any unexpected expenditure. Even if you’re only paying in a very small amount each month, if you don’t touch it until you absolutely have to, it will grow and grow.

New Year, New Start…Try something new?

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