Debt is a common but frustrating problem for many households. If you’re among the many Americans who are struggling to get out of debt, you understand how overwhelming the task may seem.
It’s easy to become more deeply in debt than you anticipated. In fact, in credit card debt alone, Americans’ debt exceeds one trillion dollars.
If debt is weighing you down, you’re not alone. Household debt balances in the United States stand at almost 13 trillion dollars.
Whether life circumstances have put your finances in a precarious spot or you’re just tired of barely getting by, there are ways for you to get out of debt.
Read on for ten simple ways to get out of debt and back on track
Cut Unnecessary Expenses
This may seem obvious, but it’s often the most overlooked strategy.
To hasten the process of paying off debt, create a streamlined, pared-down budget and cut out unnecessary expenses.
Extra expenses add up quickly. They are mostly entertainment or convenience expenses that can easily be cut out temporarily until you’ve met your financial goals.
A few extra expenses that you can eliminate are:
- Coffee shop drinks
- Cable television
- Restaurant meals
- Convenience foods at the grocery store
- Laundering services
- Housekeeping services
- Car wash services
- Nail and salon services
- Gym memberships
- Expensive hobbies
Remember that this budget isn’t forever. Your goal is to get out of debt quickly. To do this, you’ll need to cut your spending until you’ve chopped down that debt.
Some expenses are necessary and can’t be avoided. When this is the case, there is another way to reduce spending. Actively seek out discounts, coupons, and coupon codes for items and services you need. You might be surprised at how much money you can save this way.
Try living more frugally by cooking at home, working out in the great outdoors, doing your own housework, and getting rid of expensive entertainment.
Always Pay More Than the Minimum Balance
Credit card debt can seem to linger forever when you’re only paying what you have to and no more. Only paying the minimum balance on debts can be a major hindrance to your efforts to get out of debt.
Not only will your balance barely change, you’ll also be paying interest on the remaining balance.
Put as much money as possible toward your credit card balance to cut it down faster and pay less interest. You can do this by making larger payments than usual (double if possible).
You can also make weekly, instead of monthly, payments. This is a great way to move money out fast so you won’t be tempted to spend it on something else.
Pay Off the Card With the Highest Rate First
High interest makes getting out of debt even more difficult because it significantly slows progress you make with payments.
When a large chunk of your payment goes toward interest and not your balance, you’re not going to reach your debt-free goal as quickly.
Go through all of your credit cards that have a balance and order them from highest interest rate to lowest. You’ll want to put the most money toward your high-interest card.
By making high-interest card payments a priority, you can chisel away at your debt more efficiently because your payment will make more of an impact.
After you’ve tackled your high-interest balances, shift your focus to paying off small balances. This will help you get out of debt and improve your credit score.
Consider a Balance Transfer
Some credit cards will offer a zero-interest balance transfer. If you have a balance on a high-interest card, you can transfer it to one that offers this type of transfer.
This takes some planning, however.
The zero-interest balance transfer allows you a certain amount of time to pay off the transferred balance. You must be sure that you’ll be able to pay off the entire balance during this period. If you don’t, you’ll likely be slapped with an even higher interest rate after the transfer expires.
Put Credit Cards Away
While credit cards are sometimes necessary for situations like making an online purchase, most of the time you shouldn’t use them.
Take credit cards out of your wallet and put them away. Use cash or your debit card for every purchase.
This will help you avoid spending extra on things you don’t need so you can stay within your set budget.
Even if you generally use your card for purchases because of cash back or similar rewards, avoid this practice while you’re trying to reach your goal of being debt-free. It’s too easy to tack on a few extra purchases here and there when you are using a credit card.
Sell Anything You Don’t Need
There’s nothing fancy about this approach. However, it’s a great way to make some extra cash and get rid of unnecessary clutter at the same time.
The most basic way to do this is a garage or yard sale. These cost you nothing and usually generate some cash. You’ll have the added benefit of getting rid of extra household items you don’t use.
You can also sell unwanted gifts, apparel, and more online.
There are several sites that make it easy to list items. When you list through these sites, you’ll be able to reach a bigger pool of people who are interested in buying what you’re offering.
Get a Seasonal or Part-time Job
If you’re trying to pay off debt, a little extra money doesn’t hurt. Time and energy permitting, a seasonal or part-time gig is an excellent way to supplement your income and have extra cash to throw at your loans or credit card balances.
The options are pretty extensive, from becoming a driver to delivering pizza. Retail establishments, restaurants, and cleaning services are frequently in need of help.
There are many temporary seasonal positions open around the holidays. This is the time of year when businesses are pretty slammed and need extra help. It’s a great opportunity to make side money without a huge commitment.
Seasonal jobs aren’t always holiday-oriented. There are many jobs that pick up at different times throughout the year, like farm and greenhouse positions, landscaping positions, and lifeguarding and pool jobs.
You can also work a part-time job on the weekends or on your days off. Many businesses have these part-time positions open to fill in shift gaps.
Though it might be difficult at times to pull this off, it’s not a permanent situation. Just be sure that your extra income goes toward your debt immediately. The faster the debt is paid, the less time you’ll have to spend working extra hours.
In addition to seasonal and part-time jobs, this may be a good time to experiment with your own side business. There are plenty of task and service-oriented jobs that people are willing to pay you for that won’t cost you a dime in start-up fees.
Put Anything Extra Toward Your Debt
Extra money sometimes shows up for various reasons throughout the year. Instead of using this money for fun, use it to knock down your debt.
This extra money can come from several sources, but it’s usually
- From a substantial tax return
- From an annual raise at work
- From a special holiday or project bonus
- From inheritance money
While it’s tempting to use these extra batches of cash for something you enjoy, being able to get out of debt will be even more enjoyable.
Put any out-of-the-ordinary sums of money toward your debt right away. This can put a significant dent in your debt, helping you reach your debt-free goal more quickly.
Halt All Borrowing
Debt comes from borrowing again and again, whether it’s from a bank, a credit card, or anything else.
The lifestyle that got you into debt will not be the same one that will let you get out of debt.
Make the decision to stop any and all borrowing. Anything that cannot be purchased with the cash you have in your budget is not allowed.
This includes appliance and furniture financing, new car financing, and applying for new credit cards to use.
Until you are debt-free, avoid any situations where you might be tempted to borrow in order to receive something right away.
Educate Yourself and Be Open to New Ideas
There are many ways to get out of debt that work well.
Spend time reading articles and tips that offer helpful ideas that will suit your circumstances. You may find a new approach that fits into your lifestyle and spending habits more easily.
Informative sites like PersonalFinance-Online offer a wealth of knowledge, tips, and encouragement for your debt-free pursuit. If one idea hasn’t worked for you, it’s a great place to find something else to try.
Being financially responsible is a life-long commitment. Never stop learning more about how to manage your money.
You Can Get Out of Debt
As impossible as it may seem when you’re buried in bills, a debt-free life can be yours. Making informed decisions and a proactive approach will make a huge difference in your financial situation.
If you’re fed up with stressful debt, you can take action and regain control of your finances in a timely manner. You’ll also learn new habits along the way that will help you stay out of debt in the future.
Stay informed and get back on track for a life that isn’t burdened by unnecessary debt.