Planning to Pay Off Debt – A Guest Post

Evan writes at My Journey to Millions a blog about personal finance, estate planning, taxes, his multiple streams of income and whatever he else feels like writing about that day.

When battling debt how often does one hear, “all you have to do is spend less then what you earn?” I am not sure about you, but I think that is complete bul***it! I don’t claim to be an expert of anything (except maybe of being awesome) but there are a couple things that I know I did that I believed increased my chance of success tenfold. If I had to guess, the same techniques that I used will help you escape being a “normal” American with approximately $10,000 in credit card debt.

I understand credit card debt all too well. When I first started my blog over 3 years ago I was newly married with over $18,000 in credit card debt, but about 18 months ago they were all paid off using a few simple techniques.

Paying Down Debt is More than Just Spending Less

I am not your usual personal finance blogger who thinks all debt is bad – I just don’t and you’ll have a hard to convincing me otherwise. That being said, if you want to get out of debt, especially credit card debt, try some of these tips:

Know Why You Want to Get Out of Debt

Maybe it is because you want to clear up your cash flow? Maybe it is to clean up your credit score? Maybe it is because the debt is causing a problem in your personal relationships? Regardless of the reason know yours and make sure it is painful enough to make you think about it often.

If you aren’t thinking about the pain the debt is causing you then it isn’t going to be important enough to eradicate. That pain is what will drive you to…

Create a Repayment Plan

I don’t care if you are someone that prefers the debt snowball or highest interest first, you need to MAKE A PLAN. The two choices are pretty simple to understand:

  • Debt Snowball – Kill off smaller balances so you can use that “freed” minimum payment in a snowball like fashion to pay more towards the next smallest debt. Rinse and Repeat.
  • Pay off Higher Interest Rates First – Pretty self-explanatory. This is likely to save you money in lower interest payments over the long term, but if your highest interest is also your biggest you may get derailed quickly.

Of course you can switch between the two and create your own hybrid. Regardless of the plan you choose you must…

WRITE DOWN THE PLAN SOMEWHERE

Let’s ignore the fact that it is harder to ignore a plan that is actually written; I think most people are motivated by successes and failures and by writing the plan (and having the corresponding calculations) you can see on a month-to-month basis how you did. Tracking takes away the guessing game of “how am I doing?”

Tracking your progress or failures month to month especially helps when you…

DISCUSS YOUR PROGRESS WITH YOUR ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

The very first thing I ever wrote on my blog was

I figured I needed to start somewhere so why not lay it on the line for the readers of this blog, while keeping myself accountable in the months and years to come.

While it may be your spouse, a buddy, or just random internet trolls readers, plain and simple you need to be accountable to someone. You need to fear failing this person. For me, it scared the s**t out of me that there could be people reading about my financial situation and they would think of me as a failure.

 

If you like to hear more from Evan feel Free to Follow Him on Twitter or Subscribe to his Feed.

 

Comments

  1. Hi Evan,
    Nice to know that my credit card debt is “average” 🙂 But I do agree with your plan of action for getting rid of credit card debt. having a plan and then putting it out there will definitely keep you motivated.

  2. I would also add that you need to set goals. Multiple goals. Say you have $20k in loans that you want to pay off. Don’t just set that whole amount as one big goal. Why? Because that’s a big number and chances are it’s a ways off. Many people will lose interest or motivation during that time. Set goals along the way. The first five thousand in one thousand intervals. Then, when you see momentum, twenty five hundred dollar intervals the rest of the way. You’ll have 10-12 goals along the way to check off and celebrate, and this can keep you motivated so that, before you know it, you’ve hit the big one!

  3. I couldn’t agree more; these are some of the very reasons I was able to dig myself out of $14K in credit card debt and remain CC debt-free ever since!

  4. Our debt has been rapidly accumulating since 2006. Its a cycle I seem to repeat every 10 years. As most people say, I guess I haven’t learned my lesson. This time we are $158,000 in debt. Yes, you read that correctly. If there was a prize for the highest debt we might win, but that’s not our goal.

    We rent, so that doesn’t include a mortgage.

    Yes we have made a lot of mistakes and yes we do not tell anyone because we think they will think we are failures.

    Prior to 2006 we both had corporate jobs that added up to $150,000 a year. Why did we quit? The stress was killing us. Seriously, it was!

    So we thought we would venture out and start home based businesses. Unfortunately those aren’t paying the bills yet so we started funding our life with credit cards and lines of credit. After reading all of the excellent blogs online about how to live on less, budget, save money, coupons, cash only and making extra money, we created a very detailed budget including all of our debt expenses. I had read about paying off the smallest debt first and that is what we will do.

    I haven’t paid attention to how much we spend on groceries in years. I always knew it was too much, but never really looked for ways to cut back.

    Now we have a menu plan that we follow each day. The menu plan has helped so much. Just from the simple stuff like what am I going to make for dinner tonight or what’s for lunch. Now it’s on the fridge and I know exactly what is going on and what I need to buy.

    I keep track of every receipt for everything, and am very excited to see how our first month will turn out.

    We are now living a very healthy life except for the debt. Can we live a frugal, cash only lifestyle? I believe we can, but time will tell.

    • Please let us know how the first month goes. Won’t you consider joining my snowflake challenge? That can help you pay off debt faster.

  5. Whichever way, debt is massive profits to the banks. See our post on http://www.themoneyprinciple.co.uk/2011/why-banks-love-to-lend/ So paying it down is the best course for lots of reasons.

  6. Great post! I know why I want to be debt free…it would mean a minimum of an extra $800/month (which are just my minimum payments each month) and even more since all extra money goes to paying down debt. I have my debt repayment plan in place, am currently on my smallest debt of 4 separate accounts, and I am using any extra income earned to pay that account. And lastly, the being accountable. Although I am accountable with my BF, I like “confessing my sins” to the internet. It makes me want to do better each month. Only saved $100 this month? $200 next month! My commenters give me a lot of encouragement!

    • You have about as much tied up in debt repayment as we do. I get excited to think about being debt free and all the ways we could use that money to improve our financial future when the debt is gone!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.