It can be difficult to feel good about your financial situation and even the rest of your life when you are in debt. Unfortunately, debt itself can be difficult to completely eliminate from your life. If you have debt, you might have a hard time paying it off if your finances are strained. And if you let the situation worsen, concerns about a financial situation can bring your mood down if you feel like you won’t ever get out of the hole.
It’s clear that even though the economic news is improving, there are still plenty of Americans feeling as though they can’t get a leg up when it comes to paying off their debt. CreditCards.com conducted a survey and found that 51% of adults in the country racked up more debt since the pandemic. This is despite the investing class making out like bandits because asset values have gone nothing but straight up and the government throwing money at everyone under the sun through stimulus.
Debt Is Everywhere
Of course, there are those who are optimistic about getting out of debt. However, even so, many of them feel as though it will be a long time before they can get out of debt. According to CreditCards.com, only 64% of debtors feel they can get out of debt within 10 years.
What’s worst, 48% of baby boomers still have credit card debt so it’s likely that many people in the US will retire and still owe credit card issuers money. Think about that for a second. Millions of Americans will have no more income coming in but will be still owe credit card debt. Yikes!
Getting Into Debt Is Easy (But Getting Out Isn’t)
This is an indication of how pervasive debt has become in our culture. Many of us expect to use debt in our lifetime, whether we get a loan for a car or whether we use credit cards for other purchases. It can be easy to get into debt, but it isn’t as easy to get out of debt since you have to pay interest. The interest charged to loans means that not every dollar of your payment goes toward reducing what you owe. You might make a payment of $100, but $40 of it might go toward interest so the balance would only drop by $60. The higher your interest rate, the more you pay – and the less your debt is reduced by.
If you want to be debt free sooner, it’s important to make payments as soon as you have spare cash so that you can reduce your debt faster. You might also want to see if there is a way to reduce your interest rate so you can pay off your debt faster. Talk to the servicer, move debt around, work out a payment plan. There are things you can do. The sooner you act, the better.
Tinkering Can Only Get You So Far
Having said that, nothing gets you out of debt faster than just plain old paying more into the debt pile. After all, it’s great to reduce your interest rate by consolidating your debt but then paying off a chunk of it is like turning a portion of your debt to have 0% interest forever.
If you want to recover from your debt as soon as possible, here are the two suggestions to speed up the process.
Go On A Spending Diet
Spending diets have become popular in recent months. The idea behind the spending diet is that you stop spending on all unnecessary things for a set period of time.
Figure out what you have to pay. Bills, payment obligations, and food are all necessities. These are things you can spend money on during your spending diet. Just make sure your needs are actually needs. Eating out, for example, doesn’t count as a “need” even though you are buying food. Everything else is cut from the budget so that you aren’t spending money on extra things.
You might be surprised at how much money you’ve been spending on unnecessary items. Cut them out of your budget. Then use the money to help pay off your debt.
Add Another Income Stream
If you don’t feel like a spending diet is right for you, you could try to earn more money. Look for ways to increase your income. You can take a part-time job, do odd jobs around the neighborhood, or start freelancing. The important thing is to boost your income so that you can put the extra toward paying down debt so that you don’t end up caught in the debt trap.
You can even turbo-charge your efforts by cutting back on your spending while earning more. This will help you get out of debt that much faster and truly put your spending indiscretions behind you.
Make A Plan For Your Debt
It’s hard to pay off debt without a plan. One of the reasons some consumers might feel as though they won’t be able to pay off their debts is due to a lack of planning. You need a plan that involves reducing your spending and earning more so that you can put more money toward the obligation.
With the right plan, there is no reason to be in debt forever. You might even be able to get out of debt sooner than you thought.
The key is to stick to the schedule you set out and then diligently chip away at the obligation. Put together a plan, yes, but you need to stick with it. If you don’t, you’ll keep the debt and might even add to it over time.
You need to be serious about paying it down and not incurring any more. This means that you might not be able to buy some of the things you want, or you might have to work a little harder to earn more money. But once you pay off that holiday debt, you will be in a better financial position.
What’s Your Plan to Stay Out of Debt?
It’s not just about getting out of debt either. You can’t just pay down debt and expect everything to turn out. Once you have paid off your debt, you need to make sure that you stay out of debt.
And in order to stay out of debt, your journey out of debt has to be about more than just paying off your bills. You need to have a solid plan for your finances – one that helps you stay out of debt for the long term.
Change The Way You Approach Money
It’s important to understand that one of the reasons that people end up in debt is due to the approach they use with money. Don’t just look at the symptom, which is your debt; you also need to look at the causes of your situation. Why did you end up in debt? If you have been living beyond your means, it’s important to change your habits during the course of your debt pay down program so that you start living within your means.
Unless you make a fundamental change in the way you manage your financial resources, you could very well end up back where you started in terms of debt. In order to stay out of debt, you need to make sure you don’t return to the behaviors that resulted in the debt in the first place.
Have A Plan For Going Forward
One of the best ways to keep yourself from falling back into the debt trap is to have a plan for your money. Create a spending plan based on your financial priorities. Think about what you want your money to accomplish. When your money has a purpose – retirement, charity, travel, college – you are more likely to stick with a plan to stay out of debt as well as feel more fulfilled in your life.
A plan for your money can help you stay focused on what’s really important to you. Without purposeful spending, it’s easy to get back in the habit of just buying whatever suits your fancy and not saving up for the most important items.
There Are Side Benefits Too
Aside from having more money go toward your priorities, you’ll also feel better with a plan because you will feel more in control. It’s a more active role and one that makes you feel as though you are truly in charge.
That gives you confidence and takes a huge weight off your shoulders. After all, we all know how financial stress is one of the most prevalent issue plaguing the modern society. When you are in control of your finance, you will feel more at peace, sleep better, and you will be a more pleasant person to be around. The benefits are literally life changing. Keep that in mind and you will find it easier to stay out of debt once you pay off your obligations.
The Bottom Line
Many of us want to get out of debt. It’s one of the top financial goals that many consumers have and it’s not hard to see why. Debt sucks away your wealth and puts it in someone else’s pocket.
But don’t assume that the fight is won as soon as the last debt payment is made. You have won a victory, but you aren’t done yet. You need to make a plan that helps you stay out of debt for the rest of your financial life so that you don’t find yourself right back where you started.