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Today I’m going to show you how to get out of debt fast. Whether that be credit cards, student loans, auto loans, or a mortgage.
On one hand, getting out of debt is straightforward:
- Spend less
- Make more
- Put the difference towards debt repayment
While these steps work, the journey to becoming debt free is not a straight line. If it was 80% of Americans wouldn’t be in debt.
Getting out of debt takes work. Not only must you make changes to your habits and actions, you must change your mindset. This is much easier said than done.
But the rewards are worth it.
To help you reach your goal, I’ve put together a list of 27 powerful tips, tactics, tools, and strategies for becoming debt free as fast as possible.
Step # 1: How To Get Out Of Debt Fast – Get To The Root Of The Problem
In order to know where to go, you first must know where you are. Completing a budget, net worth statement and listing your debts allows you to make better decisions today and in the future.
Make a budget
You must have a plan for your money. You can’t wait until the end of the month to see what’s left over. Use one of the many free apps that allow you to track your income and expenses.
Prepare a net worth statement
Once you have your budget, it’s important to get a snapshot of your current financial picture. A net worth statement is simply a listing of the assets you own and the debts you owe.
List your debts
Debt comes in different shapes and sizes. Interest rates, fees, penalties, and minimum payments are just a few of the things you must learn about your debt. Use the free spreadsheet below.
Resource: Debt Reduction Spreadsheet
Step # 2: How To Get Out Of Debt Fast – Motivation
The journey to paying off debt can be a long one. It’s important to get some help a long the way. Use these tools and resources below to sustain your motivation.
One of the hardest aspects of getting out of debt is getting on the same page as your spouse, friends and family. If you’re in a relationship and one partner doesn’t want to change–it makes it that much harder. If your friends just want to go out and spend money–it can become quite frustrating. It’s important to deal with these situations head on.
Read Success Stories
Since only 20% of American’s are out of debt, it’s unlikely you’re going to come across success stories in everyday conversation. So, you’re going to have to seek these stories out.
Read a book
Books (from the library of borrowed from friends) can help you build the motivation and make better decisions. The book often cited as the inspiration to getting out of debt is Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.
Resource: The Total Money Makeover
Listen to Podcasts
Beyond books, podcasts can also help sustain the motivation to pay off debt. A good starting point is the Dave Ramsey podcast. On every episode Dave has a guest on who completed their debt free journey perform a “debt free scream.” It can be highly motivating imagining yourself in that situation.
Resource: Dave Ramsey Podcast
Step # 3 – Prioritize Your Debt
You’ve gotten to know your finances, you have the motivation to get started–now it’s time to start paying off your debt. Here’s where to start.
Decide which debt to attack first
Use the Debt Reduction Spreadsheet to determine the debt to start paying off first. The Debt Snow Ball Method has you paying off the lowest balance first. The Debt Avalanche Method has you paying off the highest interest first. Play around with the spreadsheet to determine what’s best for you.
Calculate how much extra to pay off that debt.
You made a budget, right? Here’s where your budget comes in handy. With the gap between your income and expenses, put ALL of it toward your highest priority debt.
Step # 4 – Decrease Your Expenses
Now it’s time to cut expenses even more. The larger the gap between your income and expenses, the faster you’ll pay off debt.
Never used coupons before? I didn’t either until I got the iBotta app. The Ibotta app is a great way to get a few dollars back every time you shop.
Ibotta offers cash back on a huge list of items you’re probably already buying like eggs, milk, bread, yogurt, etc… This can be from anyone of your favorite brands. Plus, there’s bigger cash back offers on brand name items. Stores include Wal Mart, Target, Costco, and most nationwide grocery stores.
Ibotta offers a generous signup bonus and a very easy way to earn your first $20, which is deposited into your PayPal or Venmo account.
Resource: Sign Up Here + Free Bonus
Stop Paying Fees
Get a bank that doesn’t charge excessive overdraft fees and has a nationwide network of free ATMs.
Resource: I use and recommend Capital One 360
Don’t Hoard Cash
Since you’re in debt, any cash that’s sitting around is costing you money.
A good rule of thumb is to keep $1,000 around for emergencies. Then, put anything over and above into debt payoff.
Resource: How To Build A $1,000 Emergency Fund
Cut The Chord
With all expenses, the opportunity cost is paying off debt. So, spending $1,000 on a luxury like cable is more like spending $1,160 if you’re paying 16% on your credit cards (and that’s only in year one).
Resource: A Guide to Cutting the Chord
Lower Your Utility Bills
Here’s a few ways to start lowering your utilities:
- Winterize Your Windows
- Get LED lights.
- Minimize temperature change of house compared to outside. In the winter, set temperature lower. In the summer, higher.
- Use a low-flow shower head
- Weatherstrip all doors
- Lower the temperature of your water heater
- Add insulation
- Take quicker showers
- Use smart power strips
- Use time delays. Energy rates rise when usages is highest. So, if your dishwasher or washer machine offer time delays, set them to run in the middle of the night.
Shop Your Insurance
Shop your home and auto insurance at least once every three years.
The price can change drastically from one carrier to the next. Go to a good, local independent agent who will shop multiple companies for you at once.
Resource: Independent Agent Search
Lower Your Grocery Bill
Food is one of your largest expenses. Without sacrificing your health, you want to spend the least amount possible.
Consider Stopping Investing
If you’re still investing while paying off debt, do the math if it’s worth it to stop.
Use Free & Cheap Entertainment
You can still have fun without spending money.
Sell Your Car
A simple financial move to get out of debt quicker is to sell your car. If you still need a car buy a cheaper one.
Step # 5 – Start Making Money
It’s important to work both sides of the debt equation; expenses and income.
Here’s a few simple ideas for getting started making money.
Share Your Opinion
You can get paid for sharing your opinion. There are dozens of legit sites that offer surveys that pay cash. As you’ll learn, some survey sites have paid out over $100,000,000 in cash and rewards.
Get Money Back
I enjoy finding a great deal online on things I need. One thing I’ve done to save more has been to use eBates. eBates gives you free money for the shopping you’re already doing.
Essentially, what what eBates allows you to do is share a referral fee for making a purchase through their link. You get a few extra percent off of your purchase from stores like Amazon, Target, eBay, Nordstrom, and more.
Resource: eBates with $10 Bonus
Consider A Side Hustle
There’s hundreds of ways to side hustle, the most important thing is to pick an idea and run with it.
Ask For A Raise
We have discussed earning money on the outside of a primary job. However, the quickest, fastest way to earn more might be simply asking for a raise.
Any asset you own is actually accruing interest–even if it’s fully paid off. Sell everything and everything you can on sites like Craigslist or host a garage sale.
Step # 6 – Improve Your Credit
Now that you started to pay off debt, decrease expenses and increase your income–your credit score can naturally improve. However, there are some factors with your credit score you can control. Here’s what you can do.
Get Your Free Credit Score
Get a copy of your annual credit report and check for inaccuracies. This is free to do with AnnualCreditReport.com.
Resource: Annual Credit Report
Increase Your Credit Score
Once your credit report is error free, it’s time to start improving your credit score. Use a free credit score evaluation tool like Credit Sesame.
Resource: Get A Free Credit Score
If you’ve started to develop good financial habits, you may want to consider refinancing into a lower rate loan. This can help accelerate your payments quicker. But it’s not always the right thing to do.
Resource: Refinancing the Right Way