How do I Pay Off Old Debt?

Paying off old debt gives you financial freedom for your future.

Paying off old debt gives you financial freedom for your future.

Debt is one of the most frightening words in the English language. The idea of making monthly payment after monthly payment is enough to scare off even the most dedicated partner. However, getting out of debt doesn’t have to be a horror story. With just a little persistence and dedication, you can pay off old debt before walking down the aisle.

Run your credit. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are the three credit monitoring agencies that gather and record the financial information that makes up your credit history. Check each report for accuracy, and contact the respective agency if there are any incorrect items on your history.

Make a list of your debts. Include all vehicle loans, student loans and credit cards, and write down how much the payment is on each of them. Knowing how much you currently owe will help you set aside enough money each month to pay them off.

Determine the age of each debt. The statute of limitations on old debt is normally seven years, after which time creditors can no longer pursue legal action against you for the debt, and it should be removed from your credit history.

Contact the old debt holders listed on your credit history to determine the current balance on each account. Send a certified letter to each agency asking how much you owe and explaining that you wish to create a repayment plan to pay off the debt. The creditor is required to send you proof of the debt, including the original debt holder and total balance due. Start with the smallest debt and work your way up to the largest. Ask for a written receipt upon payoff so you have proof that you are no longer in debt.

Pull your credit history again 45 to 60 days after you’ve paid off your final debt. Each agency is required to report to the credit bureaus that you are paid in full. If there are still negative reports even after you’ve paid the debts in full, contact the credit bureau yourself with proof of payment.


  • It may be tempting to just leave old debt alone in hopes it will disappear, but unpaid bills can haunt you for a long time. It is much simpler to stay out of debt than it is to dig yourself out of a huge financial hole.
  • Contact an attorney if you feel uncomfortable handling old debts alone. Attorneys that specialize in financial matters can help you pull your credit and deal with creditors.

About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

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