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It’s the four letter word that makes most people cringe in fear.
Once in you’re in debt, it feels as though you’re sinking in quicksand, clawing frantically towards the surface, desperately trying to pull yourself out.
It’s a hangman’s noose that slowly tightens around you, choking you until you feel like you can’t breathe.
We’ve been there – student loans, car payment, mortgage, credit card, medical expenses, etc. All of those payments can make you feel like you’re drowning.
According to Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps to financial freedom, getting out of debt is the second most important step you can take.
Thankfully, you don’t have to drown in debt! It is possible to get out of debt quickly and efficiently!
Here are five tips to help you eliminate your debt so you can move on with your life, free. We’ve used these steps time and again to pay off student loans and car loans years ahead of schedule!
Set up a budget
In order for you to know how much you can put towards your debt, you need to know these two things:
- How much you can spend in order to avoid getting into more debt
- How much extra you have that you can put into your debt snowball
Having a budget will answer both of those unknowns. You can’t fix your debt if you keep up spending habits where you spend more than you earn, and you can’t pay off your debt as quickly if you don’t know the maximum amount that you can pay towards it.
Eliminate unnecessary expenses
Once you’ve set up your budget, go through it to eliminate any unnecessary expenses. Any extra money you can cut out can be used to put towards your debt!
Here are some questions to ask yourself about in order to determine what you can really trim from your budget?
- Is this expense a want or a need?
- Is there a way that I can get this item cheaper?
- How can I downsize what I am already getting?
- Are there other organizations that I can go through in order to get this?
Any extra expenses you can eliminate gets you that much closer to being debt-free!
If you are looking to lower your grocery expenses, you can check out how we do a $42 weekly food budget for our family of four!
Set up a debt snowball
Now that you know how much extra you can put towards your debt on a regular basis, you can set up a debt snowball!
A debt snowball is the most efficient way to pay off your debt. First, you arrange your debts in order from smallest to greatest.
(While it may sound odd, you do not pay attention to the interest rates. Simply the balance that’s due.)
You pay the minimum payment on each debt every month, and you funnel all extra money towards paying off the smallest debt.
Once the smallest debt is paid off, you take the amount you were paying towards it, and pay it each month towards the second-smallest debt until it is paid off.
You continue this snowball until you reach the last debt, paying all of the money you were paying towards the other debts towards this last debt.
If you want more detailed information on setting up a debt snowball, I go more in-depth on this post here.
Get gift cards for regular purchases
One way to lower your budget for purchases you can’t cut out (you know, food is important), you can try to pay with gift cards!
If you know that you have to make a $100 purchase at Walmart, for example, you can go to a website like Raise and get it at a discounted rate. Since you have to spend the money anyways, you might as well save 5% on it!
There are also several ways that you can get gift cards for free! Although this won’t add up to be hundreds of dollars per month, you’d be surprised at how much you can earn.
Since these gift cards will give you extra money leftover in various budget categories, you can contribute the extra towards your debt snowball.
Extra cash to put more towards your debt
Are there any ways that you can earn extra cash? Pinterest is full of hundreds of ideas for ways to earn money!
Whether it’s side gigs, or even making items to sell, you can find ways to earn a bit of extra cash that can go towards your debt snowball.
One of our favorite ways to put extra cash towards my debts is to use my income tax return and any work bonuses towards them. It’s tempting to get that influx of cash to make a big purchase, but there is nothing more rewarding than cutting down a debt by a large amount!
Just keep working at it
Some of these tips may not seem like much individually, but they will work together to pay off your debts the quickest way possible!