Even if the numbers look daunting, there are ways to build momentum toward tackling your debt strategically.
Like any cast member or viewer of Friday Night Lights could tell you, the most important thing for you to do when making a tackle is to keep your head up. If you keep your eye on the goal and use these tips, you can decrease your debt as quickly as possible.
Stick to a budget
Decreasing debt is rarely a painless process, but if you pay attention to detail you can make it more painstaking than painful.
It will require diligence to plan a budget and discipline to stick to it. But budgeting is the first step toward eliminating debt. First, make a list of all of your outstanding debts. Next, tally your income so you know exactly how much you have to pay towards that list.
You don’t have to eliminate discretionary spending from your life, but do be discretionary. The more money you allocate to paying your debt each month, the more quickly you can eliminate it.
Study your rates and make a plan
Each month, pay more on the line of credit that charges the highest interest rate than on your other debts.
If you have outstanding student loans, two credit cards, and an IOU for Mom or Dad, the highest interest rate is most likely going to land with your credit card (department store cards tend to have especially high interest rates). If you can afford to spend $100 per month more on your bills than you owe, use all of that $100 on the debt with the highest rates. You’ll save more money over time this way.
Once you achieve your first even balance, apply that $100 and your balance from the first card to the account with the next highest interest rate and start the process over. Your next debt will decrease more quickly than the first one because you have more money to allocate to it each month.
If you need a more immediate sense of satisfaction, apply the above strategy to the account with the lowest balance. You will then be able to pay off debts at a quicker pace — spending more money per month on smaller balances — if not in the most efficient way (based on long-term, overall spending).
It may be worth the sense of accomplishment to pay more, long-term, in interest rates. The trick is to keep allocating the same amount or more each month to your bills — regardless of the amount you owe — in order to overcome your debt.