8 Ways to Get Out of Debt Fast
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“I have no idea how it got this bad.”
“I don’t know where to begin repaying my debt.”
“I’ll never be able to get rid of my credit card debt.”
If any of these phrases sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are struggling with credit card debt, student loans and medical bills. Thanks to high interest rates, your balance can quickly balloon out of control, and you can owe far more than you originally borrowed.
With large balances and high interest rates, it can feel like getting out of debt is impossible. But there are ways you can speed up your debt repayment and pay it off ahead of schedule.
8 ways to get out of debt fast
If you’re struggling with debt, it’s important to know that it’s not permanent. With some hard work and dedication, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and become debt-free.
Pay more than the minimum required payment
Credit card companies and lenders are clever. They benefit when you stay in debt as long as possible because you’ll have to pay more in interest fees. Your minimum payment is designed to cover the interest charges and part of the principal.
You can beat the system by paying more than the required minimum payment so that more of what you pay goes toward the principal rather than interest. Even paying a few dollars more than the minimum can help cut down on how much you’ll pay in interest.
Ask for a lower interest rate on your credit cards
Credit cards have notoriously high interest rates, with some charging APRs of more than 20%, which can cause your balance to grow dramatically over time. One way to cut down on your interest charges is to call your credit card company and request a lower rate.
To do so, explain that you’re a loyal customer but that you want to reduce your interest charges and are shopping for a new credit card with a lower rate. Chances are the representative will offer you a reduced interest rate so that you remain a customer.
Complete a balance transfer
If you have high-interest credit card debt, one way to reduce your interest charges and pay off debt faster is to complete a balance transfer. With this approach, you transfer your high-interest credit card debt to a card with a 0% promotional APR. Doing so will give you up to 21 months with a 0% APR so that you can pay down the balance without worrying about interest charges. You’ll save money and pay off your debt ahead of schedule.
Consolidate your debt
If you have high-interest credit card debt or medical bills, you can speed up your repayment by consolidating your debt. With this option, you take out a personal loan for the amount of your current debt. Going forward, you’ll have just one loan and one minimum payment to remember.
A debt consolidation loan typically has a lower interest rate than other forms of debt, and you’ll have a set monthly payment and fixed repayment term. This approach can help you save a significant amount of money and pay off your expenses faster.
Launch a side hustle
One of the best ways to pay off your debt is to boost your income so you can make larger payments. If a raise or more hours at your regular job aren’t an option, consider picking up a side hustle.
A side hustle is a great way to earn extra money. You can work on your own schedule and do activities you enjoy. You can deliver groceries, walk dogs, drive passengers or start a blog to add to your income.
If you’re short on cash, finding additional money to put toward your debt can be difficult. But we all experience little windfalls throughout the year, whether it’s a tax refund, birthday gift or bonus at work.
You can speed up your debt repayment by putting those windfalls directly to your debt.
Cut your expenses
You can find more money to dedicate to your debt repayment by slashing your budget. Review your bank and credit card statements and look for ways to reduce your spending. You may need to cut dining out or cancel your gym membership. While those sacrifices can feel annoying, the long-term results make them worth it.
Use the debt avalanche method
To pay off your debt more quickly and to save the most amount of money, use the debt avalanche method. Under this approach, you list all your debt and their interest rates. While making all the minimum payments on your different debts, apply any extra payments or windfalls toward the one with the highest interest rate. By focusing on the highest-interest rate debt first, you’ll save more money over the long run.
4 tips to avoid debt going forward
Once you have your debt under control, it’s essential that you come up with a plan to avoid ending up in debt ever again. To do so, follow these four steps:
- Make a budget: Make sure you understand just how much money comes in each month and what your regular expenses are. If you’re outspending your income, make significant cuts to your budget so you live within your means.
- Track your spending: Use a tool like Mint or YNAB to track your spending so that you know where every dollar goes.
- Enroll in automatic payments: Avoid missing payments — and the corresponding late fees — by signing up for automatic payments.
- Pay off your balance in full: If you use your credit cards, make it a habit to pay off your balance in full each month to avoid costly interest charges.
Tackling your debt
If you’re struggling to manage your debt, these tips can help you take control of it and pay it off early. Once you’re debt-free, you’ll have the freedom to pursue your other financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for retirement, so paying off your debt should be your first priority.