Are you drowning in debt? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately debt is easy to accumulate. Life is expensive, and sometimes you need a little help along the way. The first step to paying off your debt is addressing the problem and forgiving yourself for it. You can’t undo what’s been done. You can only make better choices moving forward. Regardless of how monumental your debt might seem, there’s a way out. Take a deep breath and use these five tips to get you started.
Set a Goal
It’s hard to get where you’re going without a clear destination. It takes a lot of self discipline and determination to pay off a mountain of debt. It’s easier (though far more dangerous) to ignore it and continue spending. In order to increase your chances of success, you should always start by setting goals. You should set goals in whatever way works best for you. For some, it’s setting one large goal and working towards it, but for others it’s setting several smaller goals they can achieve and celebrate along the way to their primary goal.
When making your goals, remember to make them as specific as possible. Don’t set unattainable goals that will stress you out and make you want to quit before you even start. Aim high but don’t shoot for impossible. Remember you’re only human. Your debt didn’t accumulate overnight, and you’re not going to pay it off overnight, and that’s okay. Take the first step, then another, and another until you reach your goal(s).
Stop Using Your Credit Cards
This step might seem obvious, but it’s one of the most challenging. If your ultimate goal is to get out of credit card debt, you must stop putting more debt on your card. Temptation to swipe is often overwhelming, so to succeed in this step, it’s best to take your cards out of your wallet and put them somewhere that they’ll be out of sight and out of mind. Pay for all future purchases with cash or a debit card. Not only will spending this way help you not add to your debt, it’ll help you notice unhealthy spending patterns and help you identify what you want versus what you need.
It’s not recommended to cancel your cards because the more total credit allowed to you, the higher your credit score will be. Turning these cards off will lower that number, and your credit score will ultimately suffer. If you need to, you can go online and freeze your account if putting your cards in the closet or a safe isn’t enough to make you stop spending.
Start a Side Hustle
It seems like everyone is picking up a side gig these days. For many folks, earning some extra cash is vital to making ends meet. But for those who are struggling with debt, the additional money serves an even bigger purpose—it can help you get out from under your bills faster.
You don’t need to run right out and get an official part time job, either. In fact, for many people, a second job is not even practical. Childcare, transportation, and other logistics can hamper even the best efforts to earn money on the side. However, one way to put some additional money in your pocket is by doing some online work. And the easiest way to start is with paid online surveys.
Contrary to what you may have heard, paid online surveys are a legitimate money-making opportunity. Once you find a reliable survey site, all you need to do is sign up and start getting paid for your opinion. You can take surveys anytime you can fit them into your schedule, like when the kids go down for a nap, you’re waiting for dinner to finish cooking, or even on a long commute. Plus, getting paid is easy. Sites like Branded Surveys let users cash out via paypal or direct deposit.
Figure Out Which Debt to Tackle First
Sit down and make a list of your debt. Make a note next to each credit card balance that includes the interest rate for that card.
There are two popular methods of paying off credit card debt. The first is paying off the card with the smallest balance first and then moving your way up until you reach the biggest debt. This method is called the snowball method since you are able to put more and more money towards cards as you go, thus gaining momentum as you work your way to the biggest hurdle. The other method is paying off the card with the highest interest rate and working towards the one with the lowest. Whichever way you choose, celebrate each positive step you take.
Trim Your Budget
The more you’re able to pay towards your debt each month, the faster you’ll gain financial freedom. Take a look at your budget and see if there are any expenses you can cut down or eliminate altogether. This process won’t be easy, but remember you’re taking steps to make your future less stressful and more enjoyable. You don’t need three streaming subscriptions; one is enough.
A good way to see what expenses you can cut back on is by tracking your daily spending in a log for the next two weeks. Chances are, you’re spending more than you think. Instead of buying coffee at Starbucks every morning, cut down to twice a week and make coffee at home the other days. Instead of ordering lunch everyday, pack a sandwich. The next time you’re out to dinner with friends, get water instead of soda or skip the alcoholic beverage. These small amounts add up over time, and putting that money towards your debt will help you reach your goal that much faster.
Remember that you’ve already made a very important step to paying off your debt by realizing you want to work on paying it off. Use the steps in this blog to keep you on track on your journey to financial freedom and remember to celebrate each small victory along the way.