You’re desperately searching for ways to find relief from a mountain of debt. But maybe the debt balances are so high that you can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or you’re already living check to check so allocating more money towards the balances each month seems impossible?
Sounds familiar? The good news is despite how dark the situation looks, it’s possible to get out of debt in record time. Here’s how:
15 Ways to Get Out of Debt Fast
1. Shift your mindset
It’s impossible to get out of debt if you don’t believe you have the ability to do so. Regardless of how tough it’s been in the past, it’s time to shift your mindset and start being more optimistic. As long as you’re still breathing, there is an opportunity to change your circumstances and chart a new course. Otherwise, you’ll continue to replay the same sob story in your head and won’t make any progress. But once you shift your mindset and commit to the debt-repayment cause, you’ll be positioned to get started and achieve the results you’re looking for.
2. Break up with debt
To get out of debt fast, it’s a must you stop using debt right away. Don’t apply for another loan or credit card, resist the temptation to get a cash advance, and freeze your credit cards in a block of ice if you have to. Just be sure to avoid debt like the plague if you want your goals to become reality. If you’ve historically relied on debt to smooth out income or survive because you have more bills than money, you’ll need to make some adjustments. More on that in the next step.
3. Adjust your spending
With the right mindset and a commitment to stop using debt and do whatever it takes to reach the finish line, the next step is to address your budget. Why so? Well, your budget serves as a roadmap for your money and tells it where to go. And quite frankly, it’s near impossible to get out of debt without a tool, like your spending plan that ensures your money is allocated accordingly.
When reviewing your budget, start with expenses. The goal here is not deprivation budgeting, but to cut out the wasteful spending so you can spend your coins on the things you love most and get out of debt. But if money’s extremely tight or your expenses exceed income, you may have to get ruthless until you find better employment or other streams of income. More on that in the next step.
4. Supplement your income
It’s no secret that you’ll need to pay more than just the minimum on your debts to speed up the repayment process. So to beef up your debt-payoff fund, consider supplementing your income by working overtime if it’s allowed by your employer, picking up a part-time job if there’s wiggle room in your schedule, or side hustling during non-work hours or on your off days. The thought of adding even more work hours to your already hectic schedule may be depressing, but remember that it’s short-term pain for long-term gain. And not only will you save a bundle in interest by accelerating debt-repayment, but your wallet will thank you once debt no longer holds you captive.
5. Devise a plan of action
Now that you’ve made room in your budget and supplemented your income, it’s time to attack your debt head-on. But instead of throwing money at random debts each month, devise a plan of action. That way, you’ll know which debts you’ll be tackling every month and when you can expect them to be paid off. A strict debt-repayment plan will also serve as a personal accountability tool and a reminder of how you won’t meet your goals if you decide to deviate from the plan by spending your money how you please or skipping a few months.
6. Sell some stuff
How does the idea of clearing space in your home while making money sound? Set aside some time in your busy schedule to declutter your living space, garage, and storage unit (if applicable) and sell the items you no longer use or need. And instead of spending the money, apply it directly to the debt you’re currently paying down aggressively. Don’t know how to trade your goods for cash? You can always host a garage sale, set up a booth at the flea market, or list them in an online marketplace. Or spread the word to relatives and friends that may be willing to take the goods off your hands for a fee.
7. Use financial windfalls wisely
Recently received an unexpected check in the mail, bonus at work, monetary gift, or an inheritance? While it may be tempting to live a little, remember the goal at hand and apply it to debt to accelerate your efforts. Don’t have any money saved or are dealing with a pressing financial emergency? It’s not the end of the world if you allocate some of the cash to resolve the issue, but don’t go overboard.
8. Request reduced interest rates
Has your credit rating improved since you initially opened your credit cards? Reach out to the creditors and request reduced interest rates. They will review your current credit rating and payment history to determine if you do indeed qualify for a lower rate. There’s no guarantee that they’ll grant your request, but you never know until you ask. And even if the rate is only a few percentage points lower, you could save hundreds or thousands in interest.
9. Attack the most expensive debts first
Some argue in favor of attacking the debt with the lowest balance to build momentum. But if there are debts with exorbitant interest rates, you may be better off addressing those first to derive the greatest amount of cost-savings. Otherwise, you’ll be making progress with the smaller debt balances but the high-interest debts will be growing exponentially on the back end.
10. Make biweekly payments
By making biweekly payments on your debt balances, you’ll remit 26 payments for the year instead of 12 and will reduce your debt load faster. To illustrate, assume you have a car loan with monthly payments of $400. If you pay the standard $400 each month on the due date, the total amount paid by the end of the year will amount to $4,800. But if you pay $200 every two weeks, you will pay a total of $5,200 for the year, which is equivalent to an extra month.
11. Double up your payments
If you can afford to double up your payments on select debts, you will garner the results you’re looking for in a jiffy. Using the example above, if you pay $800 per month instead of $400, you’ll knock down the balance by a whopping $9,600 versus $4,800. And if you can afford to pay $400 biweekly, that number will increase to $10,400.
12. Don’t ignore other debts
While you’re busting your butt to pay down the debt balance that’s on the clock, don’t forget to make the minimum payments on the others. Why so? Well, if you allow them to fall behind, you run the risk of racking up a load of late payment penalties and ruining your credit. And debts that are 30 days past due can be reported to the credit bureaus and tank your score by up to 100 points.
13. Refinance your loans
It may be worthwhile to refinance your loans if your credit score has improved over time. By securing a lower rate, you could save a bundle in interest.
To illustrate, assume you have a 60-month auto loan for $20,000 with an interest rate of 5 percent, and the monthly payment is $377. If you continue to make payments as scheduled, you’ll pay $22,645 over the life of the loan (and $2,645 in interest).
But you decide to refinance for a 48-month auto loan at 4 percent when the balance is $15,476. You’ll save $27.57 with a new monthly payment of $349, and around $228.14 in interest over the life of the loan.
Quick Note: In some instances, refinancing may stretch out the repayment period, so it’s important to maintain the repayment schedule to pay the loans off in the shortest time frame possible.
14. Consolidate high-interest debts
To curb interest costs, it may make sense to consolidate high-interest debts into one loan product with a more competitive rate. For example, assume you have the following credit cards:
|Balance||Interest Rate||Monthly Payment||Time to Payoff||Total Interest Paid|
But if you consolidate your credit cards into a $10,500, 48-month personal loan with a fixed rate of 9 percent, your monthly payment will drop to $261.29 (compared to $420). Even better, you’ll eliminate balances in 48 months and only pay $2,042.06 in interest, compared to $4,971.77.
15. Consider a balance transfer credit card
If you know for certain that you can pay off credit card balances in a set timeframe, consider a balance transfer credit card that offers a promotional APR period. The longer the better as you’ll have more time to make payments that are allocated directly to the outstanding balance, and not the interest. But keep in mind that a balance transfer fee does apply.
Bonus Tip: Pat Yourself On The Back
Paying off debt is a marathon, not a sprint. But by having the right mindset and a plan of action to guide, you can shave months or years off the debt repayment process.
And while it may be tempting to throw in the towel, remember why you started on this journey and use it as motivation to keep pressing forward. Most importantly, take some time out of your busy schedule to celebrate the small wins. Before you know it, the debt balances will be gone and you’ll have the financial freedom you’ve always craved.