Even if you pay your credit cards off in full each month or avoid using them entirely, you might still struggle with other bills. Debt can get in the way of making future plans. For example, the more debt you have, the harder it might be to land excellent terms on a mortgage. Whether your debt is large or small, paying it off will enable you to stop worrying about money issues of the past and turn your attention to what's ahead.
Make a budget so that you know exactly what is coming in and going out in terms of your finances. Track your spending for a month or two so that you have a clear picture of what areas you can afford to trim. You also want to know exactly how much you are putting toward your debts each month.
List the debts you want to pay down, the amount of interest on each debt and how much you owe. Your debt might include your student loan, a car loan or a personal loan. You can also include your mortgage.
Focus on one debt at a time. You can choose to pay off the smallest one first or focus on the debt with the highest interest rate.
Pay more than the minimum amount you owe each month on the debt you are focusing on first. For example, if your student loan payment is $150 per month, increase your monthly payment to $200 or $250 or even more. Refer to your budget to determine how much you can afford to add to your debt payment each month. Adding $100 a month to an $8,000 five-year loan with 6 percent interest would shave about two years off of the life of the loan.
- Refinance your loans if possible. You might end up with a lower interest rate, which will help you pay off the loan more quickly. Keep in mind that the fees involved with refinancing, especially for a mortgage, might not make the process worth your effort.
- Check your credit report when you launch your debt pay-off plan. You want to be sure the report contains no errors, which negatively impact your credit.
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.