Debt lingers long after you charge those boutique leather boots or a beach vacation with your sweetie. No matter how you accrued the debt, paying it off as fast as possible makes financial sense. Chipping away at your debt means you'll pay less interest and reach a more secure financial place faster.
Get the Ball Rolling
Dave Ramsey, the king of the debt snowball, suggests you start small with your debt payoffs to gain ground. Ramsey's method focuses on paying the smallest debt first by putting any extra money toward that balance while paying the minimum on all other debts. When the smallest debt is paid, attack the next smallest debt using the same method. Another school of thought on reducing debt focuses on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first, which saves money in the long run because the higher rates go first. Pick the method that makes the most sense to you and stick with it.
Dip into Savings
A savings account gives you a backup if a financial emergency arises, but in many cases, using that money toward your debt is a better option. While your savings account earns very little interest, your debt carries high interest rates that cost you money. If you have enough money in your savings account to pay off your debt completely, you'll get rid of the accruing interest. You also free up the money you were paying each month toward your debt, which you can use to build up your savings account again. If you don't feel comfortable draining your savings account, at least use part of the money to lower your credit card balances.
Eliminating any new charges on the credit card keeps your balances going down instead of up, which helps you pay them off faster. If you are tempted to charge purchases, cut up your cards or make them inaccessible. In addition to not charging, consider a spending freeze on nonessential items, even if you're paying cash. Instead of buying a new outfit for your friend's wedding, put together an outfit from your closet. Drive your car an extra year or two instead of trading in for a new model. All of that extra cash goes directly to paying off your debt.
Clear the Clutter
Even couples just starting out are likely to have a nice collection of clutter, from old books and CDs to exercise equipment gathering dust. Sell these items to make some cash that will go toward paying off your debt. If you don't have a garage or don't want to mess with a garage sale, try selling your stuff online. Post ads and list items on auction sites to make some fast cash.
- Debt concept - cutting a credit card image by Sophia Winters from Fotolia.com