Although debt is a very complicated issue, it always boils down to the fact that someone spends more money than they have. While the list of reasons why that happens can go on and on, it’s almost always either the result of poor planning or not being able to control an impulse. Even when debt occurs from something unfortunate like significant medical expenses, the first step towards getting out from underneath it is to acknowledge that there’s a significant problem.
If that sounds like obvious advice, you may be surprised to learn that a significant number of people who struggle with debt are in some form of denial about their situation. Whether they think that they need to hit the lottery to fix their problems or they believe they’ve passed the point of no return, there are a lot of unrealistic views about debt.
Since the average US household has over $7,000 in just credit card debt, it’s time to throw out everything you think you may know about dealing with debt. While some of that information may be correct, it’s likely that a large percentage of it is completely off base. Because the last thing you want is to be hindered by wrong information, the following post has the actual, proven steps you need to go through in order to get your finances on the right track:
Eliminate Any Immediate Burdens
Are you facing a very serious problem like falling behind on your rent or mortgage payments? If so, remedying that situation needs to be your absolute top priority. While some people may be able to borrow money from friends or family to deal with this type of problem, that option may not be available to you. Fortunately, you can still get up to $10,000 by doing a car title loan or pawn through TitleMax. Once you get the money you need to overcome your most pressing problem, you’ll be able to move on to the first real step towards getting your debt under control.
Get All Your Debt Down in Writing
Before you can start tackling your debt, it’s important to know exactly how much you have in front of you. That’s why you need to write everything down. Since it’s useful to have both balances and interest rates, it can be helpful to put everything into a spreadsheet program so that you’ll be able to easily sort your various debts.
Saying “I’m going to get out of debt” is too big of a goal to realistically manage. While it’s fine to have that as your overall focus, it’s important to set smaller milestones. Not only will multiple milestones give you a path to follow, but they will also allow you to build positive momentum for yourself.
Tackle Your Highest APR Debt First
When you start thinking of the milestones you want to set for yourself, you may be wondering how you should organize your debt. Because it will minimize the amount you have to pay over the long-term, the best way to go is by starting with your highest APR debt. You should pay the monthly minimum on all your other debts, and then put your primary focus on this one.
Create a Snowball for Yourself
As you adjust to prioritizing debt repayment each month, you’ll likely find that you’re able to put more than you expected towards the debt that’s at the top of your list. Once it’s paid off, you should take the same amount you were paying each month and apply it to your next debt. Then since you’ll have that amount plus the previous minimum, you’ll find that the more debt you repay, the faster this process goes.
Don’t Be Afraid to Downsize, Trade-In and Sell
The best way to free up more cash and get out of debt as quickly as possible is to remove unnecessary burdens. So whether that means moving to a more affordable place, trading in your car for something older so you don’t have a monthly payment, or selling things you don’t use to get more cash, these strategies will help you out a lot.
When it comes to getting out of debt, the sooner you start putting the above steps into action, the sooner you’ll begin seeing results. That reality is why the best thing you can do for yourself is to get started today!
About the author:
Cheri Denton is a personal finance blogger. Since she started publishing online in 2005, she’s had the opportunity to help and learn from people all over the world about this subject. Although she’s already written over 500 posts, she still feels like she has a really long way to go.