One of the biggest reasons people land on this site is because they are looking for ways to save money and to get out of debt fast. Getting into debt is a whole lot easier than getting out of debt. It’s easy to get that credit card and wrack up those charges. Then, the bill comes, and you realize you’ve overspent. You might not have had enough for the minimum payment, so you paid with another credit card, and thus the steamroller of debt begins and you find yourself drowning in debt with no lifeline in sight.
When I first got married, neither of us was very good with money. We wanted new furniture, so we got 12 months same as cash. We didn’t have much money, so we used charge cards – a lot. Before we knew it, the payments and debt was overwhelming.
You would think that lesson would have taught me to not be in debt. The Bible clearly says that the borrower is slave to the lender, and boy is that ever true. Fast forward a few years, and I was working from home, raising my girls, and running an author yearbook program.
I would take people’s funds, pool them, and use it all to print a book and promote the authors. I was essentially the organizer. There were authors I’d worked with for years, so I didn’t see a big problem paying for printing, and postage, and ads on my credit card. People always paid me and it would be paid off in a flash. Then, the economy tanked. There were several authors who didn’t pay me and thus I was stuck with a debt that went on for years and was hard to climb out of. I prayed for God to help me overcome that debt, and swore I’d never let that happen again. He blessed me, helped me find Dave Ramsey, and I finally climbed out of debt. And, you can too.
Tips to Get Out of Debt
- Figure out how in debt you are. Write down every debt you have, how much you owe, what the minimum payment is, and what the interest rate is.
- How much can you afford to pay each month? Divide that up and see if you can cover the minimum payments. Is any left over?
- Call each credit card company and explain that you’re having trouble paying your bills. Ask if they have any program that might help you. Sometimes they will reduce your interest rate if you agree to make on-time payments.
- Now, pick the card with the lowest balance and throw any extra money you have on that card until you pay it off and work your way up from the lowest balance to the highest.
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This book is the one that got me started on my journey to climbing out of debt and getting off that credit card merry-go-round:
The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness gives you a plan and some steps to get you started. This and Financial Peace University are great planning tools.
This envelope system is the one that I started with years ago. My system has changed a little over the years to what works best for me, but those just getting started should definitely use envelopes, whether this one by Dave Ramsey or some other method. Cash is the way to get your finances under control!
How to Get Out of Debt Fast – 4 Key Steps
Getting out of debt might seem almost insurmountable. You might be $10,000, $40,000, or even more in debt.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Chinese philosopher Laozi
Putting your head in the sand will never allow you to get out of debt. I used to know someone whose finances were in horrible shape. They would simply refuse to open bills, which didn’t make the situation better. It actually made it worse. Living your life dodging bill collectors is no way to go. Instead, start with these steps. Work through them one by one. Even if you only make small strides, you’ll be making strides.
Step # 1: Write out your budget. Get everything down on paper, so you can see a clear snapshot of your financial health or illness. Write down how much you make and how much each expense is. List everything from eating out costs to grocery budget to your electric bill and credit card payments.
Is there more money coming in than going out? If not, can you adjust any of the categories? Obviously, no one expects you to starve to death, but can you eat out less or cut out those expensive massages once a month? The goal is to get to a zero budget where every dollar has a purpose, but you aren’t spending more than you bring in.
If there is no way to reduce your budget, and you bring in less than you spend, something has to change. You have a few options here.
- Get a part-time job or start a side business to increase your income.
- Consolidate debt through refinancing your home or by calling credit card companies and working out different payment plans.
- Sell some things you have and don’t need.
Step # 2: Get organized. If you’re in debt, then more than likely you have missed payments or been late. This is a vicious cycle, because on top of what you already owe, you start to accrue late fees. At $35 o more a pop, these can really add up. No wonder people are drowning in debt. Credit cards are the bane of human existence. They really do drown you after a while. It sneaks up on you, too.
Here are some ways to make sure you aren’t late on your payments again:
- Pay your bills first. It sounds simple, but how many of us go out to dinner with friends and then realize we don’t have the $35 to pay the water bill? Bills come first. Dinner out and fun things second.
- Set up automatic payments. Since you will have every dollar accounted for, you won’t be afraid to set up automatic payments. You can do this through your bank or the credit card company. A set amount will come out each and every month. For now, set this to your minimum payment, but you are going to choose one card to pay more on here in a minute.
Step # 3: Knock out debt one creditor at a time. Dave Ramsey recommends starting with your smallest debt. I 100% agree with his philosophy on this. While it might save more money in the long run to pay down the highest interest loan first, the truth is that humans need to see progress to stick to a tough thing like a budget. Paying off the lowest card shows that you can make progress. It also frees up that payment to go on the next debt.
Take the time to list your debts in order of how much you owe on each. Here is a sample:
- Kohl’s Credit Card – $300
- Mastercard – $4,000
- Auto Loan – $16,000
- House – $150,000
So, you’re going to start with your Kohl’s card. You are going to throw every extra cent you can on that card until you knock out that debt. Then, you’ll throw everything extra you have at Mastercard (including the minimum payment you used to pay on Kohl’s). Continue until debt free.
Step # 4: Stay out of debt. It doesn’t do you a bit of good to pay off debt and wrack it right back up. Sure, that cruise is a great deal, but if you can’t pay cash for it, then don’t book it. This is why you need to go to a cash envelope system. If there is something you want, add saving for that thing to your budget. One example is that I’ve wanted to go to Dollywood for a long time. I saved $100/month and now we are taking a short family trip this summer to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. I won’t come home to credit card bills.
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