How To Eliminate Your Debt

How To Eliminate Your DebtRecently, I published the article Reasons You’re Still in Debt. Like I said in that article, I think the first step in eliminating debt is to realize why you are in debt in the first place.

I believe that if you don’t know what your problem with debt to begin with is, then it would be hard to make a positive change.

Yes, it is great to just start attacking your debt, but you also don’t want to fall into the same cycle of going into debt over and over again.

After you realize why you are in debt (or why you keep going back into debt), the next step is to figure out how you will eliminate your debt. There are many different ways for you to attack your debt, and I prefer a mixture of everything.

Below are different ways to get rid of your debt.

 

Stop adding to your debt.

This sounds obvious, right? Like I said earlier, if you don’t know why you are in debt, then it would be hard to stop adding to your debt.

Also, if you’re eliminating debt but also adding to it at the same time then you won’t get anywhere fast.

Different ways that you could prevent yourself to stop adding more debt include:

  • Canceling your credit card.
  • Freezing your credit card.
  • Asking for your credit card limit to be lowered.
  • Don’t take out extra student loans that you don’t need.
  • Think it over before you buy something.
  • Avoid places like the mall altogether.

 

Create a budget.

Of course this is on my list. Why wouldn’t it be? If you don’t believe in a budget but you have a lot of debt, then you better start believing.

You should create a realistic budget so that you truly know how much you are spending. Then total how much you actually bring in each month. If you are bringing in less than you are spending then a change definitely needs to be made.

A budget can also help you see where your money is going so that you know what areas you need to work on. Maybe you never realized how much you spend on food each month, how much you spend on clothing or something else.

A budget really puts that in front of you so that you know what you can cut out of your spending (or at least lower your spending in that area).

 

Cut your expenses.

To continue with what I was saying above, you may have to cut your expenses in order to have a realistic budget so that you can pay off your debt.

If you have $100,000 in credit card debt, should you really still be spending $500 a month on clothing?

Probably not.

Depending on how quickly you want to get rid of your debt, there are different things that you may want to cut out. You could cut out Starbucks (I know, I know), lower your restaurant spending, find a cheaper way to workout, sell your car for something cheaper/more affordable, cook from scratch and so on.

 

Find a way to make extra money.

This is the main thing that helped me pay off my student loans so quickly. I worked like crazy in my spare time because I knew that I could make more money than I could cut out of my budget(don’t worry, I did do both).

There is a limit to how much you can cut, but you can always find different ways to make more money.

You could find a part-time job at a restaurant, retail store, and so on. You could freelance on the side. You could babysit, dog walk, sell your crafts and so on. The list is really endless for what you could possibly do.

 

Miscellaneous other things you should do:

  • Pay more than the minimum.
  • Put little amounts toward your debt. For example, whenever you get an extra $25 (such as by selling something), then you should just throw that extra money that you won’t miss towards debt.
  • Automate your payments if you can’t force yourself to make payments.
  • Put money towards debt right when you get paid so that you are “paying yourself” first.

 

How are you eliminating your debt?

When do you think you will be debt free?

 

Comments

    • Michelle S. says

      Yes, budgeting is so important John! Whenever people tell me that they are doing horrible with their finances but don’t believe in budgets, I have to laugh at least a little bit.

  1. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction says

    I agree with Stephanie’s “hermit” statement. If I don’t go out, it is very unlikely I will spend money. Just like when they say “pay yourself first” with regard to savings, I do the same for debt. I transfer that money as soon as I get paid (the amount in my budget) and then at the end of the pay period, if there is money left over, it gets shuttled to the debt as well.

  2. Allison says

    We went balls to the wall to get out of debt. If I saved 5.00 at the grocery store with coupons, I put 5.00 towards the debt. I collected change in a jar and as soon as it was full, I cashed it in and put it towards the debt.
    I think you have to want to be debt free, and then imagine what life would look like without those payments. How much freer would you be? For us, being debt free means freedom.
    Allison recently posted..Friday ConfessionsMy Profile

  3. Amanda says

    Well, I know it’s still a ways away but once my car is paid off next year, I’m going to take that money and put it towards paying off my student loan. That extra few hundred a month will knock off an extra $4,000 a year towards that debt.

    I’ve seriously been considering getting a part time job again to supplement my income, but honestly, I’m scared of burning myself out again. Instead, I’m trying to find some “side hustles” that are a little more flexible/up to me to do.

  4. Liz says

    Good tips! We’ve started budgeting like crazy. As hard as it can be not eating out so much has really made all the difference for us. We love to eat out but its so expensive. Of course we are looking and working on extra income earning opportunities as well : )
    Liz recently posted..Are You a Personal Finance Olympian?My Profile

  5. kammi says

    I make extra money from time to time, but also regularly from renting out my parking space. I take public transportation instead, which saves me money, plus I”m making money by my parking space. I have a friend who tutors; teaching Math or English to younger children or online. I think it’s just about being a little creative. We as human beings really don’t need THAT much; anyone who has travelled a bit is faced with that decision of packing only what they need. So I try to live my life simply and I don’t even own a credit card ie I have no credit history, ever (if I don’t have the cash, I don’t buy it and I shop with a grocery list). I like reading and good food; those are pretty much the bulk of my expenses, and I travel at least once a year. I’m ahead on my goals for the new year financially, which gives me more motivation to keep going and going, and it seems like I’ll be able to reach my ten year goal in half the time, which is really great!

  6. Get your geek on says

    If you are really serious about eliminating debt then lose the car! Vehicles are a huge ongoing expense and parking the car in favor of a bike (ideally), a scooter or public transportation will make a huge difference to the bottom line. If you are a two car family, try to make the switch to one. Obviously, work & family commitments can make this sort of sacrifice very difficult, but if you can possibly manage it then this will have a greater impact (other than downsizing your home) than any other financial decision you can make.

  7. Raquel@Practical Cents says

    All of these are great tips. Especially cutting expenses. After tracking our expenses last year we were able to cut $520/ month from our budget. This year we have already cut an additional $257/per month. This money is being used to payoff our debt and rebuild our emergency fund.

  8. Blake @ BeanCounterByDay says

    My biggest hurdle is finding ways to make extra money on the side without taking more time away from my fiance and family. It’s hard to find that even line. I’ve also developed a bit of a hermit syndrome as Stefanie put it above. I try and do things at my house or a friends house instead of going out on the town whenever possible!

  9. Shannon @ Financially Blonde says

    I think it is key that if you choose to start tackling debt, that you not help it grow. I realized that I had a higher credit utilization rate than I wanted, so I literally left my credit card at home for a month. It was amazing how much quicker I could pay it down when I wasn’t running it up, plus I became more thoughtful with my spending when I only had cash.

  10. Girl Meets Debt says

    Great basic tips Michelle! “Find a way to make extra money” has been key for me in trying to get out of debt faster. When it comes down to it, the scientific way to get out of debt sounds so easy, it’s overcoming the emotional war that can be challenging.

  11. E.M. says

    I’m hoping to have my student loans paid off next year. I’ve been making extra payments, slashing all unnecessary expenses, and tracking my spending. I’ve basically prioritized paying my loans off so that I’m not tempted to buy clothes or eat out as much. It can wait!
    E.M. recently posted..What Are Your Distractions?My Profile

  12. Buttercup says

    I agree with paying little amounts to debt when you have it instead of spending it on something else and automating payments. I have a checking account that is exclusively for my student loan payments. I have part of my paycheck direct deposited there. I never really look at the account or anything because I know that money is off limits. I also never worry about overdrawing the account because I know enough gets direct deposited there.

  13. Matt Becker says

    Oh man, my dad was just telling me about this couple he’s working with where the husband estimated their debt at $500k and the wife at $1M. I mean, really? How can you be that far apart? It doesn’t bode very well for their future.

  14. Marvin says

    We are debt free, but when we were paying off my wife’s student loan and car we lived off of my paycheck and used her paycheck to crush that debt in less than 12 months!
    Marvin recently posted..By: MarvinMy Profile

  15. DC @ Young Adult Money says

    Our debt is our mortgage and our student loans. I am paying it off by making some extra money, which goes directly towards those debt payments. My initial goal was to offset the monthly student loan payment and my next goal is to offset the monthly mortgage payment as well.

  16. Cece@Pink Sunshine says

    We aren’t in debt and the way to eliminate it for us right now is just to keep it that way. Debt is the devil!! We contribute to savings and buy most things in cash and if we MUST use credit cards it’s one purchase at a time.
    Cece@Pink Sunshine recently posted..On Being LazyMy Profile

  17. martha preston says

    Thesr are great advice I am frankly scared of credit cards . I used to be vrey budget heavy but my finances got so good I gave it up…big mistake. I am about to go school so I am afraid getting a loan is going to screw this up but I do not know any alternatives!

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