How to Pay Off Debt Fast

Though every household's financial situation is different, some common-sense methods of paring back debt will always be useful.

Debt doesn’t have to be a fact of life, although many people look at it that way. They assume that it’s normal to owe money and may not even pay attention to how much they are paying in interest or how long the payments will take them at their present rate, which could be decades. Others might be struggling to keep up with their bills and wonder if they will ever be in a better financial situation. Wherever you are on this continuum, it is possible to pay off debt fast using the steps below.

Overhaul Your Finances

Your first step is to take a serious look at your finances and figure out how much is coming in, how much is going out, and how much you owe. For now, just make a list of your total debts, excluding your mortgage since it may be more beneficial to pay this one off over time. Now, review your spending and look for places where you could cut back. Dig deeper than simply cutting back on your entertainment budget or buying cheaper groceries.

For example, could you be paying less for car insurance? What about moving to a cheaper apartment or getting roommates? If you have looked at ways to cut back and not found many, you might need to consider taking on another part-time job or looking for a higher-paying one. Another option is gig work, which can mean anything from dog walking to computer programming and more and is easy to fit around your regular schedule.

Look at Your Debt

The next step is to look at ways to reduce your debt in addition to paying it off. For example, interest on your credit cards is probably very high. Rather than continuing to pay off a little each month, a better option might be to take out a personal loan from a private lender. You can check your estimated interest rate, and it is likely it will be lower than the credit card rate. You can then use the loan to pay off the credit card in full and then turn to paying off the loan at a lower rate.

Have a Plan

Next, you should decide whether you would prefer to pay off your smallest debts first or those with the highest interest rates first. The latter is the more financially sound approach because you will end up paying less in the long run. However, some people find that the former method is more motivating. The main idea is for you to stick to your plan, so choose the one that is the most appealing to you.

Make a list of the debts in the order that you will focus on them. Whichever one you begin with, put the majority of your money set aside for these payments toward that. On everything else, simply make the minimum payment. When that first one is paid off, add what you were paying on it to the minimum payment on the second item on the list. As you proceed through the list, the payments you make on the main debt will grow larger.

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