Debt can feel like standing at the bottom of a pit. Every time you try to climb out, the sandy walls crumble down, and you end up more stuck than before. It’s all too easy to be going about your every business as usual only to wake up and realize one day: You’re buried in debt. And, unfortunately, nobody else is capable of rescuing you. So, it’s time to grab a shovel and start digging. You can get yourself into the light of day again—it just takes a combination of willpower, the right tools and the right financial knowledge to make it happen.
There’s no foolproof plan for getting out of debt. But there are a number of tried-and-true methods that work for many consumers, depending on the type of debt they’re carrying and how much they owe. Let’s take a closer look at some potential solutions.
Pay Off Debts Strategically
If you want your “digging” to pay off, you need a strategy. This is especially true if you have multiple debts. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re throwing money around without any tangible results—making it hard to stay focused psychologically.
You may pursue a strategy called snowballing, which entails paying off your lowest credit card balance first while paying only the minimum balances on the rest. Once that card is paid in full, you can channel the extra cash into paying off your next-largest balance. Consumers can do this as many times as it takes to become debt free. The advantage here is that starting with your most manageable debt helps you gain momentum. With each subsequent victory, you feel more motivated to continue onward and keep proactively paying off debts.
The debt avalanche method also requires making minimum payments on all debts except one. However, debtors start with their highest interest rate first, then work their way downward. This method prioritizes efficiency because eliminating high interest rates helps you avoid racking up even more debt while you’re still focused on repaying your current balance. This has the potential to help you dig your way out of debt faster. Counterpoint: It can feel more daunting than the snowball method because debts are not arranged neatly by size.
Some consumers choose a debt relief strategy like settlement, in which they work with a partner like Freedom Debt Relief to negotiate down their principal credit card balances with creditors. Working with a reputable company, one that has a proven track record of helping clients successfully negotiate their debts down, is key here.
Whichever method you choose, make sure you’re ready to commit for months or years as needed. Just like digging, it will require hard work and elbow grease.
Modifying Your Money Habits
The other component of escaping debt is streamlining your budget and saving for the future. After all, without lifestyle changes, your debt repayment journey will only take longer. And without planning for unexpected expenses, one emergency can send you straight back down to the bottom of that pit.
Looking for ways to save money here and there so you can devote it to debt repayment? Here are just a few ideas, courtesy of The Simple Dollar:
- Sell unused possessions online
- Cut back on entertainment subscriptions
- Avoid restaurant meals, food delivery and takeout
- Buy groceries in bulk
- Bundle your insurance or shop around
- Weather-proof your home
- Drive less
Even as you’re repaying debt, don’t forget to tuck a portion of your income into your emergency fund — even if it’s just $20 per month. This will help you avoid getting completely derailed by an unexpected expense.
When you’re buried in debt, just know there’s a way out. Now start digging!