6 Steps to Get Out of Debt
Unfortunately there are no classes in high school or college that teach you how to pay off a loan or credit card, but there are plenty of companies out there willing to lend you the money you need for your next big purchase. Knowing that a portion of your hard earned money will be going towards digging yourself out of a hole instead of wealth preservation can be discouraging; but that doesn’t mean you can’t cover up that hole and walk away debt free.
Getting out of debt requires a plan and commitment. Here are six simple strategies to help you pay off any kind of debt:
Figure out how much you owe
Gather your statements, and log onto those accounts to see how much you owe for each account. Make a list of your accounts, the balances, and the interest rates being charged.
Rank your debts in order of size or interest rate
Next, you need to decide the order you want to pay off your debts. One strategy is the “snowball method.” This is where you start with your smallest debt, and work your way up to the bigger ones. The idea is that as you are able to check accounts off of your list as being paid off, you gain both a confidence and mental boost to keep on going. Another strategy would be to tackle the most expensive debt first. Find the account with the highest interest rate, and pay down that debt. Once that is paid, move onto the next highest interest rate, and so on. Doing this will ultimately have you paying less over the life of your loans.
Know how much you’re spending
It is important to know how much money you have coming in vs. how much money you have going out. After you have a good idea of the amount left over every month, it will be much easier to determine the amount you can comfortably devote to paying down your debt.
Allot cash for minimum payments
Although earlier we established what debt we would like to pay down first, we can’t forget that the rest of the accounts have the minimum payments that need to be made each month. It is important to take these minimum payments into account before allocating extra funds to the first debt on your list to pay off.
Automate your payments
Regardless of if you’re making a minimum payment or throwing extra money toward the debt to get it paid off, it’s always a good idea to make your payments automatic. It’s as simple as a few clicks online or a quick phone call to set up. Not only will you be sure not to miss a payment, but it’s a little bit easier to part ways with your money when you don’t have to manually make the payment every month.
Reduce your regular expenses
Many times we don’t know just how much we’re spending on certain things until it’s all laid out in a budget. Setting a limit to the amount of money you allocate to different categories on a monthly basis is a good way to free up extra cash to put towards your debt. It’s always a good idea to check back each month and see how you can improve your spending habits, and make any changes to better suit your needs. If you would like additional help on budgeting, you can find resources here.
About the Author
Kristi Desepoli is an associate financial advisor at Heritage Financial Advisory Group. Heritage specializes in investment management and financial planning for business owners, executives, and doctors.