Step one: Get informed. How much debt do you really have? There is no point trying to trim the pounds if you don't have a goal in mind. Pull out those bank statements and credit card bills and start adding.
Step two: Count the pounds. What do you spend every day, and how? Keep a daily diary of everything you spend for one week, you will probably get a surprise. This simple exercise will help you spot the money wasted on unnecessary treats. Just think, if you could save just £2 a day by ditching wasted spending, that is £730 a year towards your debt.
Step three: Budget. Create a spending plan for each month, detailing your expected expenditures. This should be done well before the beginning of every month and detail everything coming in and going out, taking into account upcoming bills. Add in a 10% contingency in case something goes wrong, allow yourself a weekly spend and then apply the remaining cash to your debts.
Step four: Spend less! OK, it is an obvious point, but there are ways to ease the pain. First up, try to pay for most things in cash. Visit the cashpoint just once a week and when that sum is gone don't spend more till the following week.
Step five: Grow your income. If the spending plan consistently shows you spend more than you earn, then you need to take steps to correct it, fast. Is there a way to make more money on your current job, or do you need to take on a second job to ease the debt problem? There are plenty of moonlighting options such as party planning, home tutoring, or even working as a mystery shopper.
Step six: Beat the max. If possible, always exceed the minimum payment on your credit cards and pay on time. It makes all the difference between paying off the card in a few years compared to decades.
Step seven: Resist temptation. Don't plan trips to the shopping mall, you know where it will lead. And, if you find a big ticket item you simply must have, walk away for a day. It will still be there tomorrow, but by then you will probably have decided you don't need it that much after all. Do factor in the occasional (small) reward for good behaviour – that way any dangerous splurges are more likely to be contained.