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Sometimes it feels that as soon as you get your paycheck and then pay your bills you are left with peanuts. Dealing with debt and living paycheck to paycheck can be stressful and lead us to even worse spending habits. Even worse, when something unexpected comes up such as a washing machine gone mad or a car smoking on the side of the road it can mean a real problem and a real scramble to get the money that you need.

At times dealing with debt can seem like an endless and frustrating hole that you can’t dig out of. The truth is you can and you will but it won’t be easy. Be honest with yourself about what you need. Here are a few tricks to dealing with debt and achieving financial freedom.

Take inventory of where your money is going: It is easy to pick up a bite here, a splurge there and at the end of the month feel absolutely dumbfounded when you are out of money. Spending money is easy so it’s good to take a month and track it. Save your receipts or download a computer program to help you keep up with your spending.

Decide on what you really need: It can be easy to forget how many subscriptions you have until you list them out. Or maybe you had no idea that you were spending $200 a month eating out for lunch during the week. We can all find times where we should have been more thoughtful about our spending. Look at your list and decide what can you live without and then apply those savings to your debt. Even $50 a month will help you. You now have your shovel to begin digging out of that hole.

Roll money from one bill to the next: After paying off a bill you feel so light and accomplished. Start paying off your smallest bill or the bill with the lowest interest rate. As you pay that one off, roll all of that money to the next one. It is like a train helping you take control of your life again. Each victory adds more money to the next bill and gets you out of that hole faster.

When you let debt get out of control, it’s difficult to get the things you need, like that new washing machine or new used car. Spending money when you owe money might seem counter-intuitive, but for example, if you are able to buy a used vehicle in like-new condition, you will save money in the long run. By financing a car with the dealership, you will build your credit back up by paying your low loan payments on time and driving a car that is reliable.

These suggestions may sound simple but they aren’t always so easy to accomplish. Only you know the things you need and the things you want. If you want freedom and responsibility, then pick up that shovel and dig. You will feel so much better when it’s over.