As someone who is young and slightly dumb, I have had my fair share of paying off debt. I can definitely say I’ve kept up with the trend of “treat yourself”, but it’s time we put an end to such toxic trends and take responsibility for our actions. We cannot expect to have no consequences to our actions and we shouldn’t let debt take over our lives. So here are 5 tips of what I have been personally doing to pay off my debt once and for all!

# 1 – Determining How Much Debt You Have

The first step would be to determine the total amount of debt you owe. This can be done by simply looking at all your account balances and adding them up, or you could even use Credit Karma to total up your debt. When totaling it all up, I would suggest writing the account balance next to the name of the credit card/loan/etc. so you can keep track of what is owed to whom.

#2 – Organizing Your Account Balances From Smallest to Biggest

This next step is key and is essentially the order on how you will be paying your debt down. It’s smartest to pay off your smallest account balances first before moving onto the larger account balances. You never save the easy thing for last, you do the easy step first! Paying off the small debt balances first is easiest since they’re so low. This also takes off the stress of having multiple open accounts. Many people have many small accounts opened, so once those are taken care of, you can release some stress as your number of accounts has gone down. Once you knock out all the small debts you can then move up to the big leagues! Now, once you have organized your debt based on amount owed we can move on to the next step!

#3 – Paying Extra On Each Account

It’s always smart to pay a little extra than just the minimum required. This will help you to decrease the amount of interest accrued over time as well as pay off your balance in a shorter timespan. Of course not everyone has the ability to do this, at least not in vast amounts, but even if it’s just a little extra each week/month, it can still help! I have been paying extra on my car so I can finally be done with that loan. A tip for this, always put your extra money towards the principal amount only and not the entire loan. You don’t want to put down extra money that is then divvied up between the loan amount and the interest amount. You want to put that extra money towards the original loan which lowers the total amount owed which in turn lowers the interest on the loan as well.

#4 – Adding Debt Payoff Into Your Budget

If you are going to be paying your debt off with intention then it’s best to add it into your monthly expenses on the budget. This way with every paycheck you have a dedicated amount that is for paying off debt specifically. No more waiting around for “extra money” to come in to put towards it, it’s time we take control of our financial situation and make paying off our debt a priority! Even if your current circumstances prevent you from being able to add debt payoff to your budget, I would go out there and make the sacrifice to find some sort of extra income to dedicate to paying off your debt. There are so many opportunities for remote work that adding an extra source of income shouldn’t affect your schedule that much. I for one do freelance work, editing, proofreading or even writing. I say, 1 year of hard work and dedication to finally be free of debt is time well spent.

#5 – Stop Using Your Credit Cards

The most efficient way to lower your debt is to stop making charges to your credit cards! I have found not carrying my credit cards with me to be extremely helpful as well as erasing the cards from my computer, phone and any other digital history. That way it won’t be as easy to make a whim purchase like making an emotionally-linked purchase. For instance, you’re having a bad day so you decide that you’re going to “treat yourself”. NO. If you don’t have your credit cards on you or saved in your phone then you will be forced to use your debit card. If you can afford this purchase on your own (debit) then by all means, go for it. But stop borrowing money for materialistic things that lose there value almost instantly after you buy it.

These are my best 5 tips for paying down your debt. Do with it what you will but I truly hope that if you are in need of paying down your debt you will consider trying these 5 tips out for yourself! Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed so don’t waste your entire adult life paying off debt for materialistic things that don’t even matter. My advice, lower your standards a little and make sure you have money for the necessities. There’s no need to have the newest car on the lot, the most expensive purse or the newest iPhone! If it’s not broken then don’t fix it. Save and pay off your debt and once you can afford those things using cash or debit only, then go for it! Until then, make your choices wisely.

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