HOW TO PAY OFF DEBT
While paying off debt is not an easy task, it is achievable. These quick tips will help get you started.
Make a List
Make a list of who you owe and how much you owe. The list should include your regular credit cards, gas cards, department store cards, student loans, mortgage — any debt. Requesting a free copy of your credit report from https://www.annualcreditreport.com may help you remember all the cards and debts you owe. The list should include lender name, debt total, amount owed, interest rate and minimum monthly payment. You can write your own list, or download and fill out this Debt List Worksheet (PDF, 49 KB).
Prioritize your Paybacks
Now that you have a list of all debts, there are two main techniques to tackle your payments:
- Start small
Pay off the smallest balances first, which will give you a sense of accomplishment and reduce the total number of lenders you owe. When the smallest balances are paid, start allocating your money to paying off the cards with the highest interest rate.
- Think big
Pay off the card with the highest interest rate first because the debt on that card is costing you the most.
Following the "think big" technique will save you more money, but the "start small" technique may make you feel better, faster. With both techniques, be sure to pay back as much as you can every month and remember to stop using the cards!
Cut Them Up
Once paid off, cut up your card. You may also want to close the account. But remember that closing all of your credit accounts may negatively affect your credit score.
Make a Budget and Stick to It
Check out our article on how to make a budget, which contains many budgeting tips and a link to our budget worksheet. (PDF, 205 KB).