How amazing would it feel to get out of debt and be financially free?
Just the phrase get out of debt seems like something extremely unattainable.
It is stressful just thinking about the process of getting out of debt.
To help make it a little bit easier, I am going to share with you a few steps to take to get out of debt.
Whether you are bogged down under loads of credit card debt, a home mortgage, or student loans from your education, debt is one of the biggest stress factors.
If you have ever paid off any debt, you know it is not an easy task.
It is not something that will happen overnight.
It is not something that will happen without you putting in the work.
It is not something that will happen if you don’t start.
Today is the day to start.
Below you will find a list of tried and true tips to help you begin the process of getting out of debt for good.
Steps to take to get out of debt
#1 Understand your spending habits.
To really get a grasp on your current debt situation you need to fully understand your spending habits.
Not just to learn how you got into debt, but also how to get out of debt. This begins with understanding how you incurred debt to begin with.
While many would say debt is never necessary, there are a handful of things that I feel are somewhat necessary debts.
Things like educational debt are often a must to advance in your career choice.
A home mortgage is a debt that is also an investment for your future as is a vehicle loan.
Debts that are not necessary and are often created out of poor spending habits, not enough savings, or emergencies are those like credit cards and personal loans.
In some instances, these debts are hard to avoid if they are created out of an emergency situation.
In others, they are a direct result of poor spending habits.
Regardless of their source, they are unnecessary and preventable when you create a savings buffer.
#2 Begin truly living below your means.
This is almost always on the list of how to begin getting out of debt.
It is one of the biggest things you must consider to really have an impact.
(Related: Tips to quit spending more than you make)
Start considering ways you can live below your means.
- Downsize your home, car, or possessions to create added income or fewer monthly expenses
- Routinely compare prices on regular services like insurance, cellular phone, cable, Internet, and other routine subscriptions
- Shop wisely using sales, coupons, and rebate programs or apps when applicable
- Skip vacations and focus time off on inexpensive relaxation and cleanup around your home.
- Meal plan and budget wisely for common expenses like food, gas, utilities, and clothing needs.
- Skip costly entertainment and invest in board games or a low-cost streaming subscription at home. Utilize the library and local free concerts or events when applicable.
You may be in a situation where there are very few things left to do that will eliminate your expenses.
We understand that some are living paycheck to paycheck and already have eliminated all of these things.
If that is the case, take the time to go back over each suggestion again to make sure you are getting the most out of it, and then move forward to our other suggestions and plans toward getting out of debt.
#3 Create a savings account.
It may seem impossible to get out of debt if you are saving money, but savings is one of the best things you can do for your finances both now and in the future.
Often, unnecessary debt is a direct result of not having a proper savings set aside for emergencies.
(Related: Quickly build an emergency fund)
Whether you have a medical emergency that requires time off work and hospital bills, or a vehicle break down that means you have to use credit to pay bills, savings is a great preventative tool that keeps you out of debt and helps your debt from increasing in the future.
A savings account doesn’t have to be huge to make an impact. To begin, start with $5-$25 per pay period placed directly into a savings account.
Whether you move that money there manually, or have your employer direct deposit a set amount of your paycheck into a savings account doesn’t matter.
Making a savings account and holding yourself accountable is what is important.
#4 Evaluate your income.
At the end of the day, the biggest thing keeping you from getting rid of debt is the money coming into your home.
In many instances, it seems impossible to change how much money you make.
There are some things to consider that can help make your income level higher and thus your debt easier to pay down.
Take some time to not just evaluate your current income, but consider what you can do to increase that income.
This is where you really have to get tough on yourself.
Being comfortable in your current job or jobs can be a financial pitfall.
This doesn’t mean you have to always be unsatisfied, but you do need to constantly be considering changes to make your income situation better.
- Look for new positions in your industry that pay better.
- Check out side jobs to earn extra money in your spare time.
- Ask for a raise annually a your work evaluation. Make sure your job performance is worthy of said raise.
- Start a home business in direct sales, online work, or service that you can provide.
- Take classes in your career choice or a vocational study that will help you to get a higher paying job.
- Take on a second part-time job that will earn money just for paying down debt.
- Look for a new career path if you have maxed out the pay scale on your current job or career
#5 Seek help.
Sometimes, your debt just still seems overwhelming and impossible to manage, let alone get out from under. This is when seeking outside help is key.
Yes, there are companies and people who charge you a fee to help evaluate your finances. This help can be useful, but you may also ask a friend to help.
Often, a fresh set of eyes on your budget and financial situation is all you need to notice gaps or loopholes that could eliminate expenses and increase your income.
There is no shame in asking for help, or even seeking help in the form of books, online courses, or debt workshops.
As with any goal, getting out of debt can seem impossible to make happen.
The best method for accomplishing this and taking steps to get out of debt is to be honest with yourself and take things slowly.
There is no get rich quick scheme or perfect formula.
Getting out of debt takes time and hard work, but these tips are a great place to begin.
What steps have you taken to get out of debt, please share in the comments below!