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10 Ways to Pay Your Debt Off Faster

by Contributor

If you have debt then you probably also have the desire to eventually get it paid off. It’s one thing to have the desire to pay it all off, but it’s another thing to actually take action and aggressively pay everything off. After all, do you really want to spend the rest of your life in an eternal state of “paying off my debt?”

Too many people have the best intentions of paying off their debt but then never seem to get on the right track with it. Here are 10 ways to get your debt paid off faster:

1. Get serious! It isn’t going to do you any good to decide to pay off your debt if you aren’t serious about it. Think about various times in your life when you have decided to take on something hard. You probably succeeded only after you made the conscious decision to do so. You’ll pay off your debt faster when you’re serious about it.

2. Map out your plan of attack. Don’t just start throwing money at your debt without some plan of attack in place. What will you pay off first? How much money will you put toward your debt? Will you cut out other expenses while paying your debt down? A comprehensive plan of attack will help you get your debt paid off faster.

3. Stop spending money you don’t have to spend. Instead of eating out, pack your lunch. Instead of stopping for coffee, brew your own at home. Any money you save, put toward your debt. The more money you have to put toward your debt, the faster it will get paid off. In short, live within your means.

4. Use some of your savings. If you’re comfortable with this idea, take some money out of your savings account and put it toward your debt. Make sure you leave enough money in your savings account for an emergency, but you’ll probably save more money from debt interest you won’t have to pay than if you had left the money in savings and earned the meager interest on the balance.

5. Chop up your cards. You’re asking for trouble if you keep using your credit card while you’re actively trying to pay it off. It’s better to stop using the card for a couple of reasons: You won’t add more money to the debt, and you’ll actually witness your balance decreasing. Seeing the balance decrease can help you stay motivated. Be careful canceling credit cards because it can affect your credit score. You don’t need to cancel your cards to cut them up and stop using them.

6. Get another job. Find a way to bring in some extra money, and put all of that extra money straight to your debt. Make sure the extra job you find is worth the effort, because a long commute across town to work a minimum wage job may wind up costing you more than if you had never taken the job to begin with.

7. Make sure everyone is on board. If you share your finances with a spouse or someone else you have to make sure that everyone involved is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get everything paid off. If everyone is on board then the debt will get paid off more quickly than if one person is dead set on getting the bills paid while the other person only wants to shop.

8. Consolidate. You might be able to save quite a bit of money in interest and get your debt paid off faster if you consolidate all your accounts into one low-interest account. The best way to do this is through a 0% balance transfer. You may be able to save hundreds or even thousands, depending on your situation.

9. Sell some stuff. With online auctions and good old fashioned garage sales you can unload a bunch of stuff that you don’t need or want anymore. Take the profits from your sales and put it right to your debt. You’ll get debt paid off faster and you won’t have to deal with excess clutter in your house.

10. Periodically reevaluate. As your balances start to dwindle, periodically take a look at the bigger picture and see if there is something you should be going to get everything paid off even faster. If something isn’t working, change it.

Of all these items on the list, perhaps the most important is #1: Get Serious. Even if you’re willing to work extra hours and do whatever you can to get some extra money in your hands, without the true intent to put it toward your debt you’ll probably just wind up spending the money instead of putting it to your bills.

Get serious! You’ll pay off your debt much faster if you’re serious about getting it done.

This is a guest article by Jonathan, who writes the blog Master Your Card, a blog about getting out and staying out of debt, and mastering credit card use.


Published or updated January 28, 2010.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 eric

“Make sure everyone is on board”

This is CRITICAL when it comes to finances and marriage. For the first year of my marriage my wife and I had differing goals and understandings. It seemed like every time the budget allowed a few extra dollars my wife wanted to rush off and spend it instead of paying off a credit card, or making an extra payment. Great Bullet point, I can’t emphasize its importance enough!

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2 Dividend Growth Investor

It might also make sense to automate your debt repayment out of your paycheck. And if you ever get a raise, live as if you haven’t in order to avoid lifestyle inflation..

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3 Kristen

I quit using credit cards a little over two years ago. I don’t have one right now at all. I had a lot of debt that I had accumulated when I was younger and I was stuck in that vicious cycle of pay a little off, charge a little more, get nowhere reducing my debt.

It was really hard (and a little scary) at first to not have a credit card. But I finally started making progress paying off the bills and just making better spending choices the whole way around. It’s a relief to know that how much I owe is decreasing and I’m getting ahead instead of just treading water. I’m definitely celebrating when I make the final payment and owe no credit card debt.

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4 Until Debt do US part

great post.

From my experience number 7 is perhaps the most crucial to success. It is vitally important that the people around you, your friends and family, are fully behind you and understand what you are trying to do.

The last thing you need is for a conflict to develop between you and your partner as you try to cut back and repay your debts.

It can be tough.

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5 Ryan

Agreed, Until Debt… If people aren’t on the same page, the battle is over before it starts. It can indeed be tough, but it is well worth it!

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6 MoneyEnergy

For numbers 2 and 3, these I think are the most important. Don’t waste your efforts trying to pay off your credit cards and other debt just to get back into debt again a year later. It’s like a diet this way. You need a long-term plan that will allow you to NEVER fall into debt again (i.e., beyond being able to pay your cards off in full each month), otherwise this is nearly wasted energy. So in order to lose weight, you first have to stop taking in more fat.

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7 irina

happy are they who have no debts. Oh my debts have no ends. Im so tired. Help me how to solve this problem.

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8 louie m cuison

which lending institution can consolidate my debts so that i can have big takehome pay

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