A woman has shared her top tips for saving money after paying off her £20,000 debt – without giving up frivolous treats. Shaurna Cameron, 29, first ran into trouble with her finances when she graduated from college in May 2013.
The money troubles started after she got her first full-time job with a salary of £17,000. At the time, Shaurna felt ‘rich’, which prompted her to spend money on clothes, bags and ‘useless things’, as well as expensive trips.
If she couldn’t afford it with her monthly income, she would go into debt using a credit card. It wasn’t long before Shaurna was in debt.
“When I couldn’t afford to pay for my flights directly, I didn’t hesitate to put that money on a credit card,” said compliance specialist Shaurna. “That meant that in June 2016 [three years later]I had accumulated around £20,000 in credit card and loan debt.
“At first I didn’t really take it seriously – I was 24, living at home and had moved house a few times, so by then I was making £30,000. I paid my bills on time, but I was only making minimum payments on my credit cards.
“It really started to get to me when I was talking about money to my peers and they were shocked at the amount of debt I had accumulated. I thought that was normal or at least not something to worry about.
“Hearing the shock from others was a real wake-up call.”
Shaurna took out a debt consolidation loan in August 2018 to pay off his credit cards, created a four step budget, took extra jobs to get more income and shared some other tips below on how from which she got rid of debt. She said: “It’s not something I would recommend because it’s basically replacing debt with more debt.
“However, at the time, it was the best option for me. I also had to do a lot of work to prevent myself from instantly putting purchases on a credit card.
“It had become a bad habit for me to always use my credit card and it’s something I’ve struggled with ever since. However, I never got into that much debt again.
To make sure she could repay the money, Shaurna set herself a budget, following a four-step zero-based system. This includes identifying income streams, tracking and categorizing expenses, ensuring that its total income stream minus its expenses equals zero.
In other words, all of his money is affected, including allowing treats – and, finally, being flexible and adjusting the budget if necessary, as with recent increases in public services. She said: “It doesn’t matter if you write it down on paper or electronically, but it’s so important to have a plan in place for your money and to understand where all your money is going.”
Shaurna also looked for secondary sources of income alongside his work. She said: “There are so many different hustles you can do without taking too long.
“My personal favorites are virtual tutoring, surveys on AttaPoll and Prolific, and market research with Bunnyfield.”
She also set clear financial goals, which Shaurna says are key to saving money and paying off debts. For the Londoner herself, this may include limiting the number of takeaways she orders and planning for future travel and shopping.
She currently has “medium and long-term sinking funds” dedicated to trips to Croatia and Mexico, as well as the purchase of a Dior tote bag. Shaurna thinks not limiting yourself too much is crucial for long term success.
She added: “It gives me something to work towards and allows me to focus on continuing to improve my finances. A good budget allows you to do the things you love – it can be anything as small as having a coffee to go once a week.
“While a budget is the foundation of financial success, it’s really important to have a balance. I’ve been able to quadruple my salary since graduating in 2013 and I love spending my disposable income on nice things.
“To do this, I budget for treats, like getting my hair done, doing my nails and eyebrows, or going on a little shopping spree. If I want to go on vacation, I want the best room in the best hotel.
“However, I’m going to do a lot of research to make sure I get the best deal and put a plan in place to make sure I pay everything in cash. I balance that with a zero-based budget, which s make sure all my bills are paid. I also prioritize savings and use online challenges to ensure I’m still contributing to my future.
“After taking care of these essentials, I use my disposable income to buy whatever I want.”
This way, Shaurna managed to enjoy trips abroad while actively repaying his debts. She also sets aside leftover money from her budget, such as saving money she didn’t spend but had previously allocated for groceries, which can be used for treats.
However, another important part of paying off debt is reaching out and finding others who can support you on your journey without judgment. Shaurna shares money saving tips on Instagram (@thebougiebudget_uk) and has also found her own community of people to turn to.
She became debt free in December 2021. She said: ‘The British debt free community on Instagram has been very helpful to me and I have learned a lot from her.
“If you’re not on Instagram, Facebook has similar accounts dedicated to saving money and it’s always worth reaching out to friends and family to discuss money and budgeting. ‘have the career and income that I have and I know that in these tough times a lot of people don’t care about being ‘candle’.
“First of all, it’s really important to focus on your own finances and tailor the advice you receive to your personal situation. Second, comparison is the thief of joy. As long as you’re doing the best you can with the money you have, there’s no point in comparing yourself to someone else.