4 Ways to Drop Your Debt Weight This Year
By Christine DiGangi
Published on December 30 2014
'I'm going to get out of debt this year.' Sound familiar? It's a common aspiration, just like this one: 'I'm going to get healthier this year.'
Both debt and poor health are burdensome: You feel it every day, and even though it weighs on you, the changes necessary to improving your situation seem daunting and difficult. Still, taking small strides toward these challenging goals make a huge impact on your happiness, and every little bit of progress helps. Here are a few strategies you can try to set yourself on the path toward eliminating your debt.
1. Low-Card Dieting
If any of your debt is made up of credit card balances, one of your top priorities should be to stop adding to them. You may not need to stop using credit cards entirely, but use them sparingly while paying them off, so your balances go down, rather than stagnate or increase.
For some people, temptation can be too much, so you may have to cut out credit cards completely till you've paid them off. It can take some time, but it's worth the results. The more you eliminate, the faster you'll lose debt. You can easily figure out how much you have to pay each month to pay off your credit card debt within a certain amount of time using a credit card payoff calculator like this one.
2. Spending Detox
You're never going to stop spending completely, but you can certainly cut it out for a while. Sometimes, eliminating spending from your routine will help you fight the impulse to buy frivolous things and help you stick to your budget once you do return to the shopping world.
Try cutting non-essential shopping from your budget for a week or two and see how it feels. Chances are, you'll like the lower credit card bills and higher bank account balance, not to mention how much you'll learn about your ability to exercise self-control.
3. Credit Strength Training
Dropping debt isn't all about restriction — the best path to debt freedom involves some strength-building, too. As you cut back on spending, especially on credit cards, you'll start to boost your credit score, but you also need to focus on making debt payments on time and avoid opening any new credit cards or applying for loans. Good credit may help you save money on rent, utilities and future loan products (by way of lower interest rates), which is important to keeping you debt-free in the long run.
As you work on getting rid of debt, keep an eye on your credit, to make sure everything has been reported properly. You can get a free credit report overview every 30 days on Credit.com to help you stay on track.
4. High-Impact Saving
There are many ways to get out of debt, but sometimes a slow approach is most sustainable. By building savings alongside your debt-payoff plan, you're protecting yourself from falling back into debt if you have an emergency or run into unexpected expenses. If you put all your money toward paying down debt, you're leaving little room for error: If something comes up and you have no savings to fall back on, you'll have few options beyond going into debt again.
When creating a debt-payoff strategy, make sure it incorporates savings, too. Getting rid of debt requires a balanced approach, otherwise you'll face years of yo-yoing in and out of debt.