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.