Whether you have a combination of student loans, credit card debt or debt from a personal loan, you'd prefer it if the debt was paid off sooner rather than later. The quicker you pay a debt, the less interest you'll owe and the better able you'll be to meet other financial goals, such as buying a house or starting your retirement fund. When you dedicate yourself to paying down debt, you'll have to make a few small sacrifices in your life, but it will be worth it in the end.
Make a list of your debts, their amounts, the interest rates and the minimum due each month. Also make a list of your fixed expenses each month and figure out your monthly income after taxes are taken out.
Subtract your total expenses from your income to see how much you can devote to your $20,000 debt each month. If you don't have enough left over after expenses to cover even the minimum payments, you will have to make a few changes to your lifestyle, such as finding a cheaper rent or getting a roommate or selling your car.
Establish a debt-free date. Use an online debt repayment calculator to figure out how long it will take you to pay off your debts with the amount you have available each month. The calculator will also tell you how much interest you will pay on your loans based on the payment method you choose.
Focus on paying the debt with the highest interest rate first if you have multiple debts. For instance, if you have $5,000 in credit card debt with 15 percent interest and $15,000 in student loans with 6 percent interest and you want to pay off your debt within 2.5 years, you should pay around $575 towards the credit card debt each month and $150 towards the student loan debt. As you near the end of the 2.5 years, the credit card debt will be eliminated and you should pay around $600 a month to knock out the rest of the student loan debt.
- Use money that you would normally use for frivolous expenses, such as a fancy lunch out or a concert, to pay down your debt.
- Pretend you are still in college if you need to scrape the money together to pay off your debt. You don't have to eat ramen noodles or boxed macaroni for every meal but you should say no to designer clothing and fancy vacations, at least until your debt is gone.
Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.