According to Bankrate as of September 2021, the average consumer in American had debt of $92,727. This figure includes credit card debt, student loans, mortgages, personal loans and other loans.
According to a Pew Research study, more than half of Americans spend more than they earn each month and rely on credit to make up the difference.It’s easy to see why so many people are in debt — and why some people opt to hide their heads in the sand.The reality of owing so much money is too much for many people in debt to bear, so they choose not to.
But, every now and then, calamity hits, forcing individuals to face their problems head on.
A series of adverse occurrences, such as a job loss, an unexpected (and costly) house repair, or a significant illness, can throw one’s finances off course to the point that they can barely keep up with their monthly payments. And it’s at these moments of disaster that we understand just how vulnerable our financial positions are.
Sometimes we simply become tired of living paycheck to paycheck and decide we want a better life — and that’s perfectly fine, too.You shouldn’t have to face calamity to realize that you no longer want to struggle and that you prefer a simpler life.For many people, the only option to take control of their lives and futures is to become debt-free the hard way.
Steps to get out of debt more quickly
Unfortunately, the period between discovering your debt is out of control and really getting out of debt can be difficult and painful.Getting out of debt, no matter what kind of debt you have, might take years — or even decades.
Fortunately, there are certain ways that can help you pay off debt faster and with less hardship.
Consider these tried-and-true ways if you’re ready to get out of debt:
- Make a larger payment than the minimum.
If you have a $15,609 credit card balance, pay a standard 15% APR, and make the minimum monthly payment of $625, you’ll have to pay it off in 13.5 years. And that’s assuming you don’t add to the amount in the interim, which can be difficult enough.
Making more than the minimum monthly payment, whether you have credit card debt, personal loans, or student loans, is one of the greatest strategies to pay things off faster.This will not only save you money on interest over the life of your loan, but it will also help you pay it off faster.Before you begin, check to see whether your loan has any prepayment penalties to avoid any headaches.
You can also enlist the help of several free online and mobile debt repayment programs, like as Tally, Unbury.Me, or ReadyForZero, to chart and track your progress as you pay down sums if you need a push in the right direction.
- Use the debt snowball strategy to get out of debt.
Consider employing the debt snowball method to speed up the process and build momentum if you’re in the mood to pay more than the minimum monthly payments on your credit cards and other obligations.
To begin, make a list of all of the obligations you owe, from least to greatest.
Make the minimal payments on all of your larger debts while directing all of your extra income to the smallest balance.Once you’ve paid off the lowest loan, put the additional money toward the next smallest bill until it’s paid off, and so on.
Your modest amounts should disappear one by one over time, allowing you to put more money toward your larger debts and loans.This “snowball effect” allows you to pay off lower bills first, racking up a few “victories” for the psychological benefit, while saving the larger loans for last.
The ultimate goal is to snowball all of your additional cash toward your bills until they’re all paid off — and you’re debt-free.
- Start a secondary business.
Using the debt snowball method to attack your debts will expedite the process, but earning more money will help you go even further.Whether it’s babysitting, mowing yards, cleaning houses, or being a virtual assistant, nearly everyone has a knack or skill that may be monetized.
Nearly anyone can make some additional money on the side with services like TaskRabbit and Upwork.com.The goal is to use whatever extra money you earn to pay off your debts as soon as possible.
More information can be found at: How to Make More Money.
- Make a bare-bones budget (and stick to it).
You’ll need to minimize your costs as much as possible if you truly want to pay off your debt quickly.
A bare-bones budget is one tool you can build and use.This technique will allow you to minimize your expenses as low as possible and survive on as little as possible for as long as possible.
Everyone’s bare-bones budget will be different, but it should be free of “extras” like eating out, cable television, and wasteful expenditures.You should be able to pay a lot more toward your bills even if you’re on a tight budget.
Remember that bare-bones budgets are only intended to be used for a limited time.You can begin reintroducing discretionary spending into your monthly budget if you’re debt-free – or significantly closer to your goal.
- Get rid of everything you don’t use.
If you’re looking for a quick way to make money, it would be a good idea to take inventory of your belongings first.Most of us have items in our homes that we rarely use and could live without if necessary.
Why not sell what you don’t need and use the money to pay off your debts?
A good old-fashioned garage sale is usually the cheapest and quickest way to offload your unwanted stuff for a profit if you live in a neighborhood that allows it.Otherwise, you may try a consignment store, one of the many internet resellers, or a Facebook yard sale group to sell your stuff.
- Look for a part-time seasonal work.
With the holidays approaching, area retailers are looking for flexible, seasonal employees who can help them keep their stores open during the hectic holiday season.If you’re willing and able, you may work one of these part-time jobs to supplement your income and pay off your debts.
Seasonal work may be accessible even when the holidays are over.Seasonal greenhouse workers and farm occupations are in demand in the spring, while tour operators and all types of outdoor, temporary labor, from lifeguards to landscapers, are needed in the summer.Haunted house attractions, pumpkin patches, and fall harvest all require seasonal labour throughout the fall.
The bottom line: Regardless of the season, finding a temporary work without a long-term commitment may be possible.
- Negotiate reduced credit card interest rates, as well as other expenditures.
If your credit card interest rates are so high that paying off your bills appears unattainable, it’s worth calling your card issuer to negotiate.Requesting lower interest rates is actually extremely common, believe it or not.If you have a strong track record of paying your payments on time, you may be eligible for a lower interest rate.
Aside from credit card interest, there are numerous other sorts of expenses that can usually be reduced or eliminated – we discussed them in Six Bills You Can Negotiate Down to Save Money.Always keep in mind that the worst thing somebody can say is no.And the less you pay for fixed expenses, the more money you have to put towards your debts.
If you’re not a negotiator, a service like TrueBill can assist you.The software will look through your purchasing history for any forgotten subscriptions or other recurring costs that you might wish to eliminate from your budget, and it can even help you negotiate lower prices.
- Think about transferring your balance.
If your credit card provider won’t budge on interest rates, a balance transfer might be worth considering.
You can get a 0% initial APR for up to 18 months with some balance transfer offers, but you may have to pay a balance transfer fee for the opportunity.
If you have a credit card amount that you think you’ll be able to pay off in that period, switching it to a card could save you money on interest while also helping you pay off debt faster.
- Pay off debts with ‘found money.’
Almost everyone comes across “found money” at some point during the year.
At work, you might receive an annual rise, an inheritance, or a bonus.Or perhaps you anticipate a sizable tax refund every spring.It doesn’t matter what kind of “found money” you have, it could go a long way toward helping you get out of debt.
You can use any odd sources of income to pay off a large portion of your debt each time you come across them.Use the money to pay down your smallest balance if you’re using the debt snowball strategy.
And if you’re only left with large sums, you can utilize those dollars to eat up the rest of what’s left.
- Get rid of costly habits.
If you’re in debt and always come up short each month, examining your behaviors could be the smartest thing you’ve done so far.Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to examine the minor ways you spend money on a daily basis.That way, you can assess whether those purchases are worthwhile – and devise strategies to reduce or eliminate them.
If your costly habit is smoking or drinking, it’s a simple matter of quitting.Tobacco and alcohol do nothing for you except get in the way of your long-term ambitions.If your pricey habit is slightly less combustible – such as a daily cappuccino, restaurant lunches during work hours, or fast food – the best strategy is typically to cut considerably back with the goal of eliminating or replacing these habits with something less expensive.
- Take a step back from the ______ .
Something tempts each of us.It might be our local mall or our favorite internet retailer for many.
Others may find themselves driving past a favorite restaurant and hoping they could stop in for a meal.
And carrying a credit card in one’s wallet is too much temptation for people with a spending habit.
When you’re working down debt, it’s wise to avoid whatever your largest temptation is.
It’s tough to avoid new debts, let alone pay off existing ones, when you’re continually enticed to spend.
So, wherever possible, avoid temptation by taking an alternate route home, avoiding the Internet, or keeping the fridge filled so you aren’t inclined to overspend.
If necessary, put your credit cards in a sock drawer for the time being.
Once you’re debt-free, you can always bring them back out.
If you never have to face the truth of your circumstance, it’s easy to stay in debt.
When calamity hits, though, you can quickly obtain a fresh perspective.It’s also simple to grow tired of living paycheck to paycheck and look for ways to free yourself from the crushing burden of too many monthly bills.
It’s critical to understand that there is a route out of debt, whether it’s credit card debt, student loan debt, vehicle debts, or something else.It won’t happen immediately, but if you make a plan and stick to it long enough, you could have a debt-free future.
Any of these tactics can help you get out of debt faster, no matter what your strategy is.
And the sooner you are debt-free, the sooner you can begin living the life you desire.