1. Create a Budget – and stick to it
Start by writing out all of your current monthly recurring expenses.
Things like rent/mortgage, food, utilities, and miscellaneous recurring expenses.
There’s lots of ways to lower your utility bills. Examine your other recurring expenses and decided whether some things can be cut.
For example gym memberships, entertainment services, lawn care services, etc. Decide what you’re willing to keep paying for, then add it all up. Subtract that from your monthly income and the difference can go toward paying off your debt.
2. Stop eating out and ordering in
This is a big one. If you do these things often, a little money spent here and there can gradually build up to thousands of dollars. As of 2018 I pledged to my family to not order any more food in, since we were doing it at least once a week. I can already feel the savings!
3. Use a spending tracker
Many folks swear by the budget app & website YNAB. I suggest giving it a try if you want to get very hardcore and scientific with your budgeting. Seriously people have practically worked miracles with their money using YNAB!
4. Spend less than you make
A great way to get yourself to spend less than you make is to pay yourself first. The “pay yourself first method” means you basically decide how much money you want and can to put towards your debt or savings goals each month and pay that amount right away when you get paid.
5. Use an envelope system
Lots of folks are loving this system to budget and keep their cash organized.
I personally like these ones which are a bit sturdier (and cheaper, too!)
If you have a hard time sticking to your budget, an envelope system can fix that. Once you have created a budget for each category (like food, clothing, auto, misc), withdraw that amount in cash and keep the cash in separate envelopes, labeled by category. However much money you budgeted for food, you can’t spend more than the cash in that envelope, etc.
6. Pay off debt faster with money gifts, bonuses, and tax refunds
Although it’s tempting to use a gift of money to buy something cool, it’s much more useful to pay that money toward your debt. By paying more than the minimum payments on your debts, they’ll shrink very quickly!
7. Earn more money
Now that you’ve been living frugally and cutting back on your spending, why not try to increase your income as well? The more money you have coming in, the more money you can put towards paying off your debt.
When I got serious about paying off my debt, I started selling printables on Etsy, flipping clothing and antiques on eBay, and making custom websites for people. As a stay at home mom with no college degree, my options were limited, but I still found ways to earn money from home, by utilizing my skills and being resourceful.
8. Talk to your partner about debt payoff goals
Have you talked to your significant other about your goals to pay off debt?
The more you can get on the same page as each other, the easier your debt payoff efforts will go.
One mistake spouses can make is to be preachy to each other about debt payoff. If you’re excited about getting out of debt and your partner is meh, be patient, and show them you’re serious about your willingness to get out of debt by working together.
Have a monthly meeting to look at your family’s spending, plan upcoming expenses, and make budget goals together.
9. Stay motivated
If you’re just starting out with tackling your debt, and don’t really know where or how to start, I highly recommend listening to Dave Ramsey’s radio program on YouTube.
When I was starting to get serious about getting rid of my debt, I listened to Dave’s show every day and it really helped me stay motivated.
10. Choose a debt payoff method
Two popular methods include the snowball method and the avalanche method. The snowball method works by you giving everything you’ve got to pay off your smallest debt first. Once that’s paid off, keep paying as much as you were paying before to your next largest debt, and so on. The avalanche method works similarly except that you pay off according to the highest interest rate first.
My two cents
I hope you found these tips to be helpful. These are simply the things that have been working well for my family, so I hope they work for yours, too.
Have you paid off large debts? How long did it take you, and what was your secret? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear!