How many times have you decided that you were going to get your money right? We generally think about how we handle money when we go through a financial setback or are about to make a major purchase. What if you changed the way you interacted with money, not out of desperation but because it was a priority for you?
Waiting until you have a need for a good credit score or substantial savings is like working backward. The goal is to prepare yourself so that unexpected expenses or opportunities, don’t turn into financial emergencies. We generally think about improving how we interact with money in 3 steps: saving, budgeting and paying down debt. While the first two mean a change in behavior and creating new habits, with consistency they can be mastered. Getting out of debt, or developing a debt-free lifestyle can take a bit more effort.
Because debt for most is a safety net of sorts. When you can’t make ends meet or have a financial crisis, it’s the go-to solution. Once it spirals out of control, it becomes a pay-the-minimum and deal with it later situation. The problem with this thinking is that until you develop a plan to eliminate debt, it doesn’t go away.
Before you go another day, without a plan of action, it’s time to get busy getting your money in order. These five steps will help you get on tract and pay down debt now!
Believe it or not the most important step in debt elimination is changing how you think of credit and debt. If you see debt as necessary to your budget or lifestyle, you won’t have the sense of urgency needed to begin making changes. One of the best ways to motivate yourself to an elevated financial mindset is through reading. Sounds simple, right? It is actually. As you process information about a goal you’re looking to achieve, your mindset, your will, and your actions start to align your current situation with your end goal. Think of it as reinforcement. You are constantly receiving information that fortifies your decision to be debt free.
Don’t know where to start?
Here are my top 2 picks for developing a debt free mindset (click the link to order):
Without a road map, you’re just wandering around. Think of your budget as your navigation system – it tells you exactly where your money should be allocated each month. Without a proper understanding of what income, you have coming in versus expenses that are going out, you won’t have a strong foundation to create a debt free strategy. With all of the apps out there that help with saving, investing and banking… actually developing a solid budget may seem like a thing of the past; but it may be exactly what you need to get your finances in order.
Tip: As you’re developing your budget, don’t forget to allocate monies for saving and debt reduction.
The Snowball Strategy
We all like small wins that lead to the ultimate goal. Snowballing debt is how you put this theory to work within your debt elimination plan. When you snowball debt, you determine a set amount of money that you plan to allocate towards debt repayment and reduction each month. You then list out all of your debts from smallest to largest, including the minimum payment due on each. Each month you pay the minimum balance for all accounts and allocated any additional money left from the total amount that you allocated for debt elimination and pay it to the smallest account – until that debt is paid in full. You will continue to do the same each month, until all of your debts are paid in full. Along the way, your payments will increase as the allocated amount stays the same, despite fewer accounts to pay towards.
I should note that there are some financial experts that speak against snowballing, suggesting instead that you should pay off accounts with the highest interest rates first. This is also sound advice; however, if you are motivated by small achievements and seeing quick results, snowballing is definitely the route to take.
You’ve budgeted and put together a plan… but now that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel you want to get to the finish line even faster. You may want to consider a part-time job or side-hustle. No matter how you are able to generate additional income, more money equals a faster path to debt freedom.
Interested in learning how I created an entire income stream from home?
We work hard for our money and it’s completely correct to want to enjoy it. Paying down debt shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance to this since in the long run it actually puts more money back into your pocket. To expedite the process, there is one final way to increase your cash flow and pay down debt even faster – cutting back on expenses. Temporarily reducing your cable and Netflixing it for a while, canceling your gym membership, making your own coffee, or taking your lunch to work a few days a week are just a few ways you can make small sacrifices for the big picture. Don’t worry… these don’t have to be permanent changes, as you pay off your debt you’ll have additional money to spend more freely again.
Have you been successful at paying down debt and have a few tips to share? Post them in the comments – sharing is caring.