Paying off debt is a topic that makes people uncomfortable. It’s something that can be both shameful to think about and embarrassing to admit, but acknowledging it is the only way that progress can be made.
Thinking about paying off a car loan, student loan, credit card debt, etc., can seem daunting. In fact many people resort to deferring payments as long as they can because let’s face it, being in debt is inconvenient. Especially when your income allows little to no freedom.
Truth is with discipline and determination you can begin chipping away at your debt little by little. There’s no exact science to it. You just need to find what works for you and your circumstance.
Here are some top tips to get you started on your journey to being debt free!
It’s important to map out your finances based on what you receive each pay period. Every dollar you make should be accounted for.
This may seem like a rigorous task and depending how specific you want to be it can take some people longer to map this out, but it’s necessary.
Giving each dollar an assignment will give you control of where your money is going. For example, have you ever went shopping with no budget in mind and then looked at your account a few days later only to see you spent way more than you could afford? This practice will help you prevent that from happening.
Here is what you should account for when mapping out your finances. Disclaimer: this may vary from person to person.
- Bills (rent, utility, water, phone bill, subscriptions, etc.)
- Necessities (gas, groceries, medication, etc.)
- Debt payments (student loans, car loan, credit card, etc.)
- Leisure money (PAY YOURSELF!)
Taking these four things into account will allow you to see where your money goes week by week and may prompt you to cut down on expenses where you can.
Don’t forget that this will be challenging to follow at first. You may have to tell friends and family “no” to certain things if it’s not in your budget. But it’s important to remember the goal you have in mind.
Double payments on debt
Did you know that your loans earn less interest overtime if you make payments twice a month? It’s true.
Making two payments a month is easier than you think it would be and can save you thousands.
Now this doesn’t mean that you have to pay more than you owe in a month you’re just simply splitting your monthly payment into two payments.
For example, if you owe $600 a month on a student loan you can pay $300 at the start of the month and another $300 mid-month. Then the cycle will repeat itself from there.
If you’re able to you can even sneak an extra payment in! Looking at the terms of your loan can also help you map out how much interest is accrued a month and how much of your payment goes to the actual principal. Then from there you can adjust when you want to make your two payments during the month.
Find a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
Debt Snowball Method vs. Debt Avalanche Method
Financial guru Dave Ramsey is a well known advocate for both of these methods and they have helped millions become debt free. The method you choose will depend on your debt situation.
The Debt Snowball Method is the most popular method and says that you should tackle your smallest debts first. As you pay off those smaller loans you can then begin paying off your bigger loans. This method allows you to see your work paying off little by little and is great for those who like to cross things off a “list”. Overall, you will naturally see quicker results with the Snowball Method.
The Debt Avalanche Method is great for those that have a loan with an unreasonably high interest rate. This method says that you should tackle your loan with the highest interest rate first to save money in the long run. While this is not as common it does work for some, so keep in mind that it is an option.
Your debt free journey
Now that you have a few starting points for tackling your debt it’s time to get started!
Keep in mind that there is no right way to pay off debt. It will vary from person to person because nobody’s situation is the exact same. It’s important to find what works for you and be consistent with it.
Along your journey to becoming debt free it may also be helpful to find others that you know are doing the same. Whether that’s friends, family, or a Twitter follower, having people that will support you and hold you accountable will come in handy.
You’ve got this!