Are you drowning in a mountain of debt? Are you losing sleep at night wondering how you’re going to pay the minimums on your credit cards? Unless you’ve been faced with major medical bills, chances are the debt was not accumulated over night. Eliminating that debt also won’t happen overnight. As you no doubt now realize, there’s no greater buzz kill than a debt hang over that accompanies a major purchase. Vow to cut your credit cards up and develop a plan to become debt free. It won’t be easy. It will require self-discipline, sacrifice and a period of true austerity. The pay back will be well worth the effort. Follow these recommendations from the financial planning gurus to develop your step-by-step plan to eliminate your debt. There’s no better time than today to get started.

The first step is to make a spreadsheet listing the balances and minimum payments due for each credit card. Total these sums. On a second spreadsheet, list all monthly fixed costs. This should include rent/mortgage payment, utilities, cell/internet, insurance and any car or student loan payments. Total these sums. Subtract the total of monthly fixed costs from total monthly take home pay. The resulting figure is your discretionary income. It is from this figure that a plan will be made to systematically eliminate the debt.

On a third spreadsheet, list all monthly or weekly costs for the following: music and video subscriptions, morning coffee purchases, lunches out from the office, evening restaurant costs, all entertainment and gifts. The sum of these costs will be earmarked to monthly debt reduction. It’s far easier to undergo a short term austerity plan than pay thousands in interest payments and carry your debt for years. The only way for this plan to succeed is a commitment to not adding any additional charges. Divide the total sum of credit card debt by the sum of discretionary spending that is to be earmarked to debt reduction and the result is the number of months you will be debt free. Set this as your goal date.

Another option to expedite the reduction of debt is to secure a part time position and earmark all earnings towards credit card balances. The added benefit of a part time position is it reduces the time available to shop. When you do shop, take advantage of the awesome deals offered by Groupon coupons and snag an American Apparel coupon for awesome deals on all of the latest fashions. Best of luck to you in reducing your debt, sticking to your plan and becoming debt free on the schedule you’ve developed.