If you are struggling to get out of debt, you’re not alone. Due to increases in mortgage debt, auto loan debt, and credit card debt, Americans now have more debt than ever before. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York Center for Microeconomic Data released in its latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit some alarming data: the total household debt in the U.S. rose by $141 billion in the third quarter of 2018, meaning Americans now collectively carry $13.51 trillion in debt.
The truth is, debt is not always your enemy. When you handle your credit cards wisely or make your monthly payments on your mortgage or loan (any type of loan) in a timely manner, you’re building a solid credit history. This only means new opportunities and the ability to access more and more capital.
But this scope changes for those who are up to their necks in debt with monthly obligations that greatly surpass their income. Bearing the burden of debt can impact many areas of your life: it can hurt your credit score (making it harder to secure any type of loan), and it can even affect you emotionally. It’s no wonder more and more people are researching tactics to pay off debt quickly.
Is that your case? You feel your debt is holding you back from living the life you want? Find here 10 smart strategies to pay off debt quickly.
10 Ways to Pay Off Debt Quickly
1. Set up automatic payments on your credit cards
A credit card, when used responsibly, it’s an excellent way to build credit, help you with unexpected expenses, and even finance your business. But you should do your best to pay off your credit card balance entirely every month. To get you in the habit of keeping a lower balance, use your credit card as a debit card with an automatic payment to pay off the balance in full every month. Not only will you not pay any interest on your credit card, but you’ll build your credit and earn reward points from your credit card provider.
2. Limit your spending
Easier said than done, right? Your first step to cut down your expenses should be to get a good grasp of where your money is going. Ask yourself: is it spent on necessities or on mere wants?
Put your expenses in writing and divide them into two columns. Needless to say, your utilities, gas, phone service or your children’s school fees should be on the necessities column, while cable, your next holiday trip, your daily Starbucks coffee or dining at your favorite Italian restaurant should be in the second column. First, identify your most expensive habits, and come up with ways and means to minimize them or get rid of them altogether. Then slowly but surely find ways to reduce the rest of your expenses, even the ones you consider a necessity. Example: have you compared the phone service rates in different providers to find the most affordable one? The savings that will add up over time will help you get out of that asphyxiating debt whirlpool much faster.
3. Work extra hours or go freelancing
Check the internet. There are always various jobs available that you can do at home in your spare time and that will earn you a few dollars on the side. Just about everyone’s got some talent or skill that can be turned into money, whether it’s mending fences, mowing lawns or becoming a virtual assistant or a blog writer. In some instances, some freelancing jobs can even generate a significant amount of money. Upwork is an excellent platform to find freelance work online. Needless to say, these extra earnings should go to your “Pay Off Debt Quickly” fund.
4. Use a fully-amortized loan to keep you disciplined in paying down your debt
A couple of problems with credit cards are i) minimum payments can be very low (which are mostly interest payments), and ii) low teaser rates can lure you to rack on debt quickly. Even if you’re paying a slightly higher rate on a loan, consider getting a fully-amortized (or fixed payment) loan if you’re planning to pay off your debt in over 60 days. Fixed payment loans, like an auto loan or mortgage, will force you to pay both interest and principal (the borrowed amount) every month. So even if you’re rate may be higher than a credit card, you’re constantly lowering your balance every month, which can result in paying less interest over the life of the loan.
5. Sell all the stuff you don’t need
Most of us accumulate stuff we seldom use. Some of these items may even be valuable: try to sell them. You can use the funds you generate to help pay off debt quickly. A good, old-fashioned garage sale is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of selling personal items, or you can consider the online marketplaces: eBay, Craiglist, Etsy or LetGo are among the most popular platforms for this purpose.
6. Use bonuses or commissions to pay off debt quickly
One of the surest ways of paying off debt quickly is using windfalls. This happens when you receive a bonus at work for your exceptional work or for closing an important deal. Other companies give out mid-year and Christmas bonuses. Have they raised your salary recently? Use the extra monthly income to pay off debt. If you’re a business owner, a windfall might come in the form of a tax refund or some promotional rebates from your clients. To sump up, don’t splurge on whims and use any unusual source of income to pay off your debt.
7. Work out a budget
If you’ve gotten this far reading, you must be dead serious about paying off debt quickly. One of the best strategies you can adopt is creating a tight, no-fooling-around, bare-bones budget. A budget goes beyond dividing your purchases into what you need and what you want, as we have previously seen. A written budget helps you analyze where exactly your money goes every month and gives you a plan to guide your spending through the year. You’ll be able to identify easier your goal (to pay considerably more toward your debts until you pay them off completely) and stay on track.
8. Negotiate your interest rates
If the interest rate of your small business loan, credit card, personal or student loan seems as high as a New York skyscraper it’d be a miracle to make any headway on your balances, it’s worth touching base with your loan provider to negotiate. The fact is, asking for a lower interest rate is quite common and if you’ve got a good track record of paying your bills on time, there’s a good chance you’ll get it. Most lenders would rather take on a negotiated interest rate than have borrowers default on their payments. Learn here all you need to reduce your high-interest rates.
9. Consider balance transfer and debt consolidation
So, your credit card company won’t budge an inch on interest rates? Consider a balance transfer. A balance transfer is a type of debt consolidation. Credit card balance transfers shift credit card debt from one or many cards to another card with a lower interest rate.
There are today a lot of balance transfer offers with 0% APR for up to fifteen months. For this privilege though they’d have a 3% balance transfer fee. Others like the Chase Slate Card don’t even charge a balance transfer fee for the first 2 months. Moreover, this card offers 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months, during which time you could possibly pay off whatever credit card balance you might have. A card like this is a cinch in helping you save money on interest while lending you a hand to pay off debt quickly.
If you have other debts besides your credit card one, consider debt consolidation. This is a technique where you take out one loan to pay off many others. You can use a debt consolidation program to tackle most types of debt.
10. Take the challenge with a positive attitude
The truth is, you don’t need to give up the best in life if you have vowed to pay off debt quickly. Don’t face this challenge as a sacrifice; tackle it as a positive change in your lifestyle and old, harmful habits. It could be conducive to a healthier, more balanced routine. Do you have an expensive gym membership? Cancel it and do your daily workout in the park. Have you developed the habit of dining in your favorite fancy restaurant every weekend? Learn to cook their recipes instead. Your personal indulgence takes the shape of designer bags and shoes? There are many options online where you can find very similar items with a very reduced price tag. Do you smoke? Well, that’s even a more beneficial habit to drop.
These adjustments will not only have a positive impact on your health but also on your wallet. You’ll be amazed at the dollars you are saving to pay off debt quickly.
These 10 strategic tips to pay off debt quickly are known to have worked for a lot of people just like you. If debts are getting you down, feeling like everything has just caved in, lighten up. It’s not the end of the world. The trick is to look closely and deeply into your particular situation and pick up any or several of the suggestions that suit you best.
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