One of the most stressful things that can happen to a person is falling prey to what I call the “Debt Trap.” If you have problems with debt, you may be desperately looking for a way out.
If you’re wondering just how you can regain control of your finances and effectively eliminate your debt, take a look at these nine different strategies you can use to put an end to your debt once and for all.
1. Change Your Spending Behavior
The first step to becoming debt-free is to put an end to dangerous spending behaviors. If you like to make impulse buys, try to go cold turkey on unplanned or unneeded purchases. Spending money is easy—anyone can do it—it’s saving that takes practice.
2. Start Creating Budgets
Do you have a monthly budget in place? If so, how close are you following it? Not sticking to a pre-planned budget is another common way to rack up debt. Start creating weekly and monthly budgets with all your spending accounted for. If you have significant expenses coming up later in the year, a yearlong plan may also be useful. Start small, and work towards saving a little more each month.
3. Pay Bills on Time
High interest rates and late fees are two things that can eat away at your savings. Avoid these by making sure to make your payments on time. Not only will paying on time free you from having to pay late fees, it will also improve your credit rating.
4. Make More than the Minimum Payment
If you are only paying the minimum on your debt, try to make larger payments. While it may hurt your pocketbook in the short term, it will get you out of debt faster.
Again, start slow; work toward paying a little more each month, gradually increasing over time. Before you know it, you’ll be doubling your payments and cutting your debt in half!
5. Focus on Paying off One Card at a Time
If you try to pay off all your debts simultaneously, you will be overwhelmed. Instead, focus your efforts on one card (preferably the one with the highest interest rate), pay that one off first, and then move on to the others.
6. Cut Down on Unnecessary Expenses
While some expenses like food and shelter are necessary, others aren’t. Minimize your costs by cutting down on unnecessary expenses. Make an effort to look for ways to save money by altering your lifestyle to become a bit more frugal and a bit less frivolous with your spending.
7. Create Emergency Funds
One of the reasons people rack up debt in the first place is because they don’t have any money saved to pay for emergency expenses In fact, a CNN Money report from last year revealed that over 75% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck!
Open a new savings account and try to put an allocated amount of money into it each month. You can even set up your account so that a small amount is automatically transferred to your savings each month—making it even easier to save.
8. Try to Renegotiate Your Interest Rates
Unfortunately, some of your loans and credit cards may have very high interest rates attached to them. Call up these creditors and see if there’s a way to lower your rate. In certain situations, they may actually be willing to renegotiate your interest.
9. Look Into Credit Counseling
If you feel your debt is simply too massive to conquer on your own, a credit counseling agency like CreditGuard can be a powerful ally in helping you better manage your debt. A reputable credit counseling agency can negotiate for reduced interest rates and lower minimum payments on your behalf.
By following these nine steps, you’ll be better equipped to eliminate your debt and build the foundation for a more financially-secure future.