There are so many things to buy out there. It would be great to have enough money to get everything you want but we all have a finite amount of cash. Loans are a good way to buy more expensive items that you can pay over time. Credit cards can be a useful way to track your spending and avoid carrying cash.
It’s fun to spend, there’s no doubt about it. We all want nice things and fancy meals out. If you can work with a budget and don’t accumulate debt you will be way ahead of the pack. There’s power in being a good money manager.
If you have gotten yourself behind in payments and have debt, it’s important to get rid of it as quickly as you can. Interest charges add up fast and minimum payments don’t pay down what you owe.
Here are six best ways to reduce or eliminate debt:
1. Stop Overspending
If we all lived on cash, this wouldn’t be a problem. When cash runs out, so does the spending. With credit cards and overdrafts, you don’t have to keep track of what you buy because there is lots of money to go around (up to your credit limit.)
Take a break from your credit cards and get rid of your overdraft. Try using cash for your purchases and allocating money for different expenses like mortgage/rent, utilities, car payment/insurance/gas, and fun money. If you can stop increasing your debt, it will be easier to pay down what bills you have.
2. Make Higher Monthly Payments
You can’t wave a magic money wand and have your debt disappear, but you can pay it down faster. Making minimum payments on credit cards will never get the debt paid off.
Start diverting funds towards paying down you debts. It doesn’t matter how little because every penny counts. Change some of your spending habits to free up cash, like bringing coffee from home instead of buying it out. Same goes for lunch. It’s amazing how a $5 coffee and a $15 lunch adds up over the month. Put that money directly onto your credit card and watch the amount owning go down.
3. Refinance Your Debt
Sometimes, taking out loans are necessary to aid your financial situation. Taking out multiple payday loans can be particularly helpful. However, make sure you have a debt repayment strategy. The most important thing that your creditors want is to be paid. If you can’t give them any money then they have to take a loss. Instead of hiding from them and getting a collection agency call, call them and try to arrange a solution.
Interest rates are negotiable and if you speak directly to them and ask for help, they may reduce the rate to ease your burden. You can also look for low-interest rate promotions and pay off the balance with a new loan or card. Just make sure to pay off the debt before the promotion ends.
Lastly, you can work with a credit counselor. They have relationships with lenders and the know-how to negotiate settlements for lower amounts. They can also bring down payments and help you get rid of the debt sooner.
4. Start a Debt Snowball
This is a great method for paying off debt quick. If you have several payments going out, organize them according to size. The largest debts you make minimum payments on and put as much money as you can towards the smallest debt. This helps you focus on one debt at a time and it will be paid off faster. When that one is gone work on the next lowest.
You will build momentum and have a sense of achievement when your bills are getting paid off. The only time this isn’t effective is if you have a debt that is a way higher interest rate than others. Make sure to tackle this one first.
5. Work from a Budget
It’s hard to keep track of your spending, especially when it’s cash in your pocket. Credit cards are so easy to use and those little purchases add up over time. In order to keep track of your spending and earning, use a budget.
Starting a budget is easy. All you need to do is write down all your fixed expenses. These are things you have to pay monthly like rent and utilities. Put down an average grocery cost you can live with and don’t forget car payments and gas money.
Also include minimum payments on your debt. Now put your income on the page. Minus all your fixed expenses from your income and whatever you are left with is your spendable income. You can use this to speed up your debt repayments and have some fun money.
6. Other Ways to Eliminate Debt
Other methods include building an emergency fund when money is good. It’s can help you through the lean times. You can also pull money from a retirement plan to settle debts. You are taking money away from your future so don’t use it as a money tree.
Any tax refunds or money windfalls you get should go directly to your outstanding debt. Consider it a gift to be used for that purpose.