Updated November 2019
Are you drowning in debt and don’t know what to do about it? Could that debt be affecting your overall health and happiness?
While you might not think your finances contribute to your health and happiness, it turns out they can be a big factor. Studies show that debt can increase stress-related health issues by 11% and increase depression by 13%, over those not in debt.
If you are in debt, it’s important to realize that you are not alone. Currently more than 35% of Americans have debt that has been turned over to collection agencies. More than 59% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and would fall behind if they lost just one paycheck. And over 60% of all bankruptcies in the US today are due to healthcare debt.
Yikes! What has become of the American Dream? As if having an illness weren’t bad enough, many people are drowning in healthcare debt. As a holistic health coach, I inspire clients to improve their “whole-health”. While we cover diet, exercise, physical, and mental health, we also look at other factors contributing to a client’s overall wellness, including career, relationships, spirituality, and financial wellness.
In 2014 my husband and I took a hard look at our own finances in order to reduce some debt and save more money. We live aboard our 40’ sailboat and were looking to double-down on this effort so we could one-day sail away to St. Somewhere, and preferably sooner than later. Five years later, against our financial planner’s advice, I’m grateful to say that we escaped the rat race and have been sailing in Mexico for a few years now. So we know it can be done.
Here are some of the tips we employed:
10 Tips to Lower Debt and Increase Health & Happiness
- Consider debt counseling and consolidation. The US Department of Justice warns against debt consolidation scams. Check their website for a list of approved non-profit agencies for help with debt counseling and consolidation. Many of them offer free advice.
- Use an online financial monitoring program. There are several free online services available. We use Mint.com to track our accounts and spending. Mint also lets you set up budgets and savings goals, sends you reminders before bills are due, or to lets you know you’re approaching the end of your budget and saves you hours of time when you’re doing your taxes.
- Revisit insurance policies. Many people are over-insured. Insurance companies are in business to make money by offering you premium packages which may not be necessary depending on your situation. We were able to lower our insurance costs by about $85/month by shopping around and adjusting coverage.
- Change cell phone providers. This is especially true if you are no longer under contract. Or talk to your current carrier and see what other plans are available to you. We were also able to cut about $30/month on our cell phone plan just by asking.
- Compare Internet service providers. Over the years I’ve found that you need to call and ask for the best speed (or lower rates.) As most Internet service providers upgrade their speeds they may leave you at the old, slow speed while still charging you a premium. It pays to ask or consider another provider.
- Pack your lunch each day. Not only does this cut down on the expense of eating out, but it also ensures that you are eating healthy, home-cooked meals. We make extra food for dinner each night. Then we pack up the leftovers for next day’s lunch into glass storage containers. Using glass containers is also healthier than storing food in plastics, which can leach out toxins.
- Make your own healthy household cleaning products. There are quite a few books available with DYI recipes for household cleaning products. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be keeping many toxins out of your home and body as well.
- Eliminate your extra “stuff.” You likely have things in storage units, basements, garages, or attics that could be earning you money. Go through your stuff and inventory what you have. This helps ensure you don’t end up re-purchasing something you already own. Sell what you don’t use or need on CraigsList.com or on EBay.com and invest that money.
- Invest for the future. Speaking of investing, we’re currently reading a great book filled with investment strategy tips from the top billionaires, for every-day people like us. Money: Master The Game, 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, by Tony Robbins. I highly recommend reading this book, learning the ins-and-outs of investing, and discovering how much $ you are truly losing in hidden investment fees.
- Save for emergencies. Put the extra you’ve saved from the above tips into a high-yield savings account. There are several companies offering higher interest rates than banks, shop online. We us CapitalOne High Yeild Savings which currently offers 1.9% interest. As an added savings strategy, your money is less easy to get at (3-5 days for a transfer) than money at your local bank, so you’ll be less inclined to touch it unless you truly need it.
Here’s a fun bonus tip: Instead of eating out, invite your friends over for a make-your-own-pizza-party. Provide some pizza crusts [remember gluten-free crusts for your g-f friends :-)] and have everyone bring a topping to share. You’ll all save money and have a lot more fun!
If you’re ready to lower your debt and increase your health and happiness, these tips can help. Please leave a comment to share your favorite debt reduction tips.
Or contact me for your FREE Health Coaching Strategy Session.