Americans are carrying a lot of debt! According to Experian, statistics at the end of 2017 revealed that average Americans had credit card debt amounting to approximately $6,354; that’s in addition to more than $24,700 in non-mortgage debts, like car loans. Meanwhile, the average loan balance for students has reached a record high of $34,144.
According to a Pew Research study, more than half of Americans are spending more than they earn each month, and they’re making ends meet by using credit. These figures show that many people are struggling to manage their debt; it’s also clear why some just bury their head in the sand and pretend the problem doesn’t exist. For them, the reality of owing such a lot of money is simply too much to bear, and so they decide to ignore it and hope it will go away.
Our Guide To Getting Out Of Debt Faster
Getting out of debt is not as easy as it might sound. Realizing your debt is out of control, then trying to reduce or get rid of it can be incredibly stressful. Regardless of the type of debt you’re in, it can take many years, sometimes decades, to finally get on top of it.
Fortunately, today we have some very effective strategies for helping pay off debt faster, and they’re a lot less stressful than carrying the huge burden of out-of-control debt. Take a look at our top tried-and-true strategies and finally free yourself from debt.
No. 1: Always Pay Extra
Our first tip is to pay more than the minimum required payment. Let’s say you have an average credit card balance of $15,609 – you pay a 15% APR and you make a minimum monthly payment of $625. At this rate, it will take 13.5 years to pay this debt off. These figures only apply if you stop adding to the balance in the meantime, and this in itself can be quite challenging.
One of the best ways to pay down any debt, whether it be a student loan, personal loan, or credit card debt, is to always pay more than the minimum amount due. Not only will this speed up the payoff process, you’ll also save on interest payable during the life of the loan.
Caution: Before taking out any loan we suggest ensuring there will be no prepayment penalties.
Need help? The good news is that there are some very good free mobile and online debt repayment tools, like ReadyForZero, Unbury.Me, and Tally, which will help you track and chart your progress as you work to pay down your debt.
No. 2: Use The Snowball Debt Repayment Method
We suggest you consider using the debt snowball method if you think that paying more than the minimum monthly repayments on your debts could work for you. This method helps build momentum and speeds up the process even more.
Start by making a list of all the debts you owe, beginning with the smallest and ranging up to the largest. The idea is to pay all your excess funds into the smallest balance. You must still make the minimum payment on your other loans. Once your smallest balance has been eliminated, start paying those extra funds into the next smallest debt, until such time as that one has also been paid off.
Continue on this path until such time as all your smaller balances are paid off, thus freeing up even more money to start paying off your larger loans and debts. This strategy for paying off debts helps you get rid of your smaller debts, creating a wonderful psychological effect that encourages you to move on to your larger loans. The ultimate goal is to get rid of your smaller debts, then move on to your larger debts, and finally, you’ll be debt-free. This strategy has worked successfully for many people who had multiple forms of crippling debt.
No.3: Increase Your Income With A Side Job
There’s no doubt that using the debt snowball method speeds up the process of reducing then eliminating debt, but if you were to earn more money you could dramatically improve these efforts. Almost all of us have a skill or talent that can be used to earn additional funds; it might be cleaning, gardening, babysitting, or even becoming a virtual assistant.
Have a look at sites like Upwork.com and TaskRabbit to see what’s available. Most of us are capable of spending a few extra hours each week earning additional money to help pay off debt. And it’s not forever – it’s just until such time as your debts are manageable, or gone!
No. 4: Live On As Little As Possible
Another easy way of freeing up funds to pay off debt is to cut your weekly expenses as much as possible. We suggest using the tool ‘bare bones budget.’ This will help you get your expenses right down, allowing you to still live comfortably, but freeing up some much-needed funds to reduce your debt.
While this type of budget will be different for different people, a ‘bare-bones’ budget will cut out all those extras, like cable television, dining out, and other unnecessary spending. Living on a strict budget can actually be fun (and addictive!) as you look for different ways to eat, travel, and enjoy yourself using minimal funds. And the rewards are huge, as you move even quicker towards paying off your debts.
A ’bare-bones budget is only meant to be a temporary measure. As you start making a big dent in your debt, or even get rid of it, you can begin adding discretionary spending back into your lifestyle.
No. 5: Make Extra Money By Selling Things You Don’t Need
Need to make some quick cash? Take a close look at your belongings. Most of us own ‘stuff’ that’s rarely used; things we could easily live without. Imagine selling some of this stuff to create funds for paying down your debt. Sounds good, doesn’t it!
Are you allowed to have garage sales in your neighborhood? This is probably the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way of getting rid of items you don’t need anymore. Alternatively, there are other ways of disposing of good-quality items, like using an online reseller, a consignment shop, or a Facebook yard sale group.
No. 6: Take Advantage Of Seasonal Work
Just watch the papers and you’ll soon discover that there are local retailers out there desperate for seasonal workers, like people to help in their stores during busy seasons. If you’re willing to put in the extra hours, it should be quite easy to secure one of these part-time jobs and earn some extra money for paying down your debts.
Of course, there are many types of seasonal jobs available; in summer there’s always temporary work available for landscapers right through to lifeguards, while in springtime there’s always a call-out for tour operators, seasonal farm laborers, greenhouse workers, and so many more part-time positions. In the fall, seasonal workers are required for fall harvest, pumpkin patches, and haunted house attractions.
Our point here is that, regardless of the season, there are many opportunities available for those prepared to dedicate a few hours to earn extra money for paying down their debts.
No. 7: Negotiate Your Interest Rates And Bills
Sometimes it feels like you’re going nowhere fast and you simply can’t get ahead. Perhaps the interest rate payable on your credit card is holding you back. Don’t hesitate to call your credit card issuer and discuss your concerns. These things can be negotiated, and it’s quite common practice for people to negotiate interest rates with their lenders. If you have a reliable history of paying your accounts on time, it’s highly likely that you’ll be able to negotiate a lower interest rate. If you’re a renter and you have a good history of meeting your rent payments on time, call your landlord and ask for the best deal they can offer. Landlords don’t like losing clean and reliable tenants, so you just never know. It doesn’t hurt to ask – the worst thing that can happen is that they say no. The best-case scenario is that you’ll achieve some big savings!
There are a range of other bills that you may be able to negotiate or even eliminate. For example, you may be able to renegotiate your cable or satellite TV bill; There’s also your home internet service – call your provider and have a list of competitors’ rates with you at the time. They won’t want to lose your custom, so you always have the upper hand.
You can even try negotiating your medical bills, and many people do. It’s just a phone call and you never know what you might achieve. Also, try to negotiate a discount on your car insurance payments. This is a very competitive industry and, again, they won’t want to lose you as a customer.
If you’re terrible at negotiating, try using a service like TrueBill. This is an app that reviews your purchasing history to locate repeating fees and forgotten subscriptions that can be cut from your budget. It can even help negotiate some of your bills for you.
No. 8: Look Into Balance Transfer Offers
Consider a balance transfer if you have no luck negotiating with your credit card company. There are some balance transfer offers whereby consumers can secure 0% intro APR for up to 18-months. However, be aware that there may be a balance transfer fee applicable for this offer.
If you think you could pay off your credit card balance during that timeframe, you could save money on interest by transferring the balance to a card. At the same time, you’ll be paying your debt down faster.
No. 9: Make The Most Of ‘Found Money’
It’s quite normal for people to experience some type of ‘found money’ during the year. It might be an inheritance, an annual raise, or even a bonus at work. Perhaps you’re due for a tax refund? Whichever way you come about this money, use it to help pay down your debts.
Whenever you come across an unusual source of income, use this money to help pay down your debt. If you’re using the debt snowball method, put this income towards paying down your smallest balance. If you only have big balances, any money at all will go a long way towards reducing these amounts.
No. 10: Evaluate The Real Cost Of Your Habits
If you’re weighed down by debt and consistently coming up short each month, we suggest you take a really close look at your habits. You need to look closely at the small ways you spend money on a daily basis. It’s the only way to evaluate if those purchases are absolutely necessary. Next is to minimize these purchases, or even get rid of them.
Let’s say you have a drinking or smoking habit. You know that the answer to either of these is to quit! At least start reducing. Both of these habits are expensive and prevent you from reaching your financial goals. If you enjoy your daily latte, fast food, or restaurant lunches, we suggest dramatically cutting down on these luxuries. The idea is to replace them with something else, preferably items taken from home.
No. 11: Stay Away From Temptation
It’s hard to avoid the things that tempt us, and we all have these temptations. It might be shopping online at your favorite store, or browsing in the mall. Perhaps you have a favorite restaurant that calls to you, or you’re tempted to use your credit card to purchase that item you’ve wanted for so long. Whatever your temptation might be, when you’re working so hard to pay down debt it’s imperative that you find a way to avoid all these unnecessary expenditures. It’s not easy to avoid accumulating new debts while paying down old debts, but you have a great motive now!
To avoid all these temptations, it might mean taking a new route home, keeping the fridge well-stocked to avoid splurging, or avoiding using the internet. Consider leaving your credit cards hidden away at home, and only bring them out once you’ve achieved your goal of being debt-free.
You can do this!
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