Are you still making student loan payments a decade after graduation? Are you working to send your kids to college but struggling to pay off stubborn credit card debt?
When you are burdened by debt or facing the unexpected, it can feel impossible to plan for a secure financial future. If you’re paying off the minimum balance on loans and credit card bills but seeing no change, you may be interested in these money management tools to help you stay on track, maintain accountability, and crush the debt standing in the way of your goals.
Define Your “Why” To Stay On Track
Start your money management journey by defining your why. Why is getting out of debt so important to you and how will it change your life?
Is it to finally feel the weight of debt lifting off your shoulders? Is it to make your family proud? To finally take that trip to Paris? Is it to create a more secure future for your children?
Take out a sticky note, write down your why, and put it somewhere you can see it every day, like a bathroom mirror or fridge. You’ll never get out of debt and create a solid financial future by sheer willpower alone. Defining a reason to crush your debt will propel you forward and keep you on track.
Create A Budget To Hold Yourself Accountable
If you’re serious about paying off your debt, you must create a budget and stick to it. Consider using the 50/30/20 rule when budgeting your expenses, a tactic that experts recommend to individuals looking to pay down debt.
The 50/30/20 rule allocates 50% for essentials (housing, car payment/ metro card, food), 30% for wants, and 20% for savings or debt repayment.
For example, if you made $4000 per month, $800 of that would go toward paying down your debt.
After you have taken stock of your finances, you may want to consider a personal finance app like Mint to help you create a clear picture of exactly where your money is going each month.
Make Extra Payments To Expedite The Process
Did you know that making extra payments on your debt balance can take years off of your repayment schedule and potentially thousands of dollars off your total interest balance? Does it seem too good to be true? Check out a loan calculator online to show you the time and money you’ll save by making extra payments!
If you’re using the 50/30/20 rule and making $4000 per month, you still have $1200 allocated for your “wants.” If you even move a fraction of this amount over to your debt reduction budget, let’s say $200, you can increase your debt payment to $1000 each month and pay off your debt much faster!
If you’re serious about creating a secure financial future, you don’t have to sacrifice the occasional night out with friends or a modest vacation. Just committing a small amount of money to an extra monthly payment can expedite your debt repayment plan.
Push Yourself To Reap Long Term Rewards
Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices in the short term to benefit financially in the long term. Consider sacrificing some of your small comforts for just one year to make extra payments toward reducing your debt.
This can include getting a second job for a short time, choosing to make coffee at home, or bringing a sack lunch to work instead of going out. Pushing yourself like this can feel uncomfortable, but you must remember, it’s not forever! If you keep your why in the back of your mind, it can allow you to re-center and make the toughest days feel worth it.
When In Doubt, Reach Out to Gain Knowledge
If you are using a budget, scrimping and saving, making extra payments, and still making only a tiny dent in your total debt amount, it may be time to reach out to a professional. American households are over $14.2 trillion in debt, and you’re not the only one struggling with repayment options. Meeting with a financial coach can help you gain clarity, determine where you’re overspending, and bring a fresh perspective to the situation.
If you are struggling with severe debt, it may be time to reach out to a bankruptcy lawyer. While bankruptcy may seem like an extreme measure or the last resort, sometimes it can be the best option for an individual experiencing mountains of debt from medical bills, job loss, or pandemic-related financial troubles. There’s no shame in reaching out for help, and a financial coach or a law professional can help you get a clean slate and take control of your financial future.
Whether you’re struggling to pay off your student loans, manage credit card debt, or bounce back from an economic downturn, you hold the keys to unlock your debt-free financial future. Remember your why, hold yourself accountable, and don’t forget to reach out for help if you need it.