We’re a nation that loves debt. According to CNBC, the average American has $26,000 in debt (not including their mortgage). High-interest debt can be suffocating and prevent you from reaching your financial goals.
If you’re underwater, financial freedom feels like it will take far too long to achieve. Luckily, that does not mean it’s impossible to kill your debt.
If you want to pay off debt faster, the steps in this post will help you build a pathway to success.
How to Pay Off Debt Faster
Debt usually results from numerous things. One of the most common causes is spending more than you earn.
Fortunately, it is possible to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and kill debt. However, it does take work. Here’s how to start paying down debt and find financial freedom.
1. Get On a Budget
The first step to get out of debt fast is to start a budget. People often think that budgeting is restrictive or difficult. Neither is the case. Budgeting is essential to get back on track financially.
A budget helps you tackle debt in three ways. These include:
- Showing how much you earn
- Showing how much you spend
- Letting you see where each dollar goes
If you don’t know how to budget, there are plenty of free budgeting apps that help you simplify the process.
Using a budget also reveals how much you can pay towards your debt beyond the minimum. That is essential information to have.
2. Consolidate Your Debt
What’s the interest rate you’re paying on your debt? If it’s credit card debt, you’re likely paying too much in interest. This will hold you back if you want to get out of debt since you’ll needlessly pay thousands more in interest.
You can often cut your interest rate in half, or more, with a personal loan to consolidate your debt. The best way to do this is by comparing multiple lenders at once.
Credible is a terrific solution because they let you compare rates from multiple lenders to identify the best choice for you. They can also help you with student loans.
Another option is to transfer the balance of your debt to a 0% balance transfer card.
Click here to explore balance transfer options.
Consolidating debt is often the fastest way to pay off debt quickly. It literally pays to take a few minutes to look at your options.
3. Find a Way to Make Extra Money
A common struggle for many people who want to pay off credit card debt fast is limited income. That was a hurdle I had to face. As a new college graduate, I had little extra income. I sold plasma, delivered pizza, and sold things I wasn’t using.
All of the extra money I earned went to my debt. If you’re facing a similar situation, a side hustle is a perfect way to pay off debt.
One of the best options is to work for an on-demand delivery app like DoorDash. You can work on your own schedule and earn up to $25 per hour, inclusive of tips.
DoorDash delivers anything restaurant meals and fast food to your home or place of work.
If you commit to applying all of your earnings to your debt, it greatly increases the velocity of payoff.
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4. Stop Using Your Credit Cards
If you’re looking for the best tricks to paying off credit cards, there’s one that can make all the difference. You need to stop using your credit cards.
Credit cards usually have sky-high interest rates. Continuing to use them as free money only makes the situation more difficult since your balance will continue to climb.
This strategy is difficult to implement, but it’s not impossible. There are several hacks you can try to stop using credit cards, including:
- Freeze the credit card – literally
- Take them out of your wallet and only use cash
- Cut up the card(s)
- Give them to a trusted friend or family member and ask them not to give them back
There are other options you can try as well. Find what works best and get your credit cards out of your life for now.
5. Select a Payoff Method
Paying off debt is as much psychological as it is financial. You need to find a payoff strategy that works for you. Finding the right one helps you ease stress and achieve financial freedom.
The two most popular debt payoff methods are:
- Debt snowball
- Debt avalanche
With the debt snowball method, you put all your extra money towards your smallest debt first. The idea is that paying off the smallest debt first gives you the motivation and momentum to attack larger debts. You still pay the minimum on your other debts, but you focus on killing the smaller debt.
The debt avalanche strategy entails paying more towards the debt with the highest interest rate first. The idea is this saves you money on interest and helps you pay off debt quicker.
Each method is different. Identify what works best for you, then run with it.
6. Streamline Your Spending
Attacking debt requires that you analyze your spending. This is essential when trying to get out of debt.
Evaluate all of your spending and ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I receiving value from that purchase?
- When was the last time I used that service?
- Could I save money on that service?
Depending on your answers, you could free up more cash to apply to your debt. Canceling services you no longer use or negotiating lower prices are terrific ways to get more money to pay off debt.
If doing either of these things causes you stress, Billshark is a free service that works on your behalf with vendors. When they help you save money, they keep 40 percent.
You can use those savings to pay your debt. There’s no charge if they don’t win you savings.
7. Ask For a Lower Rate
I used this trick to pay off my debt faster. Call your creditor and ask if they can lower your rate.
The less you pay in interest, the more that goes to the principal. This will save you money and potentially shorten the amount of time it takes to kill your debt.
If you have a good history with the creditor, they will likely work with you. They would rather receive less in interest if it means they’ll ultimately be paid in full.
8. Pay More Than the Minimum
Paying the minimum on your debt feels like you’re making meaningful progress towards paying it off. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
For example, if you have $20,000 in credit card debt and you make the minimum payment, it will take nearly 20 years to become debt-free.
This is because most of your money is going towards interest and not the principal. Regardless of if you have credit card debt, student loans, personal loans, or any other high-interest debt, it works similarly.
Every little bit extra you can pay will save you money in interest and shorten your payoff time. Again, a company like Credible can help lower your rates so you can accelerate your additional payments.
9. Know Yourself
While this method isn’t as concrete, it may be the fastest way to pay off credit card debt. You need to know yourself and your spending triggers.
It’s important to step away from whatever tempts you to spend. This will be different for everyone. My temptation was to go to the mall and buy something when I was sad or in need of a pick-me-up.
Staying away from the mall meant my credit card debt wouldn’t increase. Your temptation will be different. It can be anything from turning off the TV, staying off the internet, or minimizing time with friends who encourage you to spend.
This doesn’t mean you avoid these situations forever. You just want to use the time away to learn how to decouple these scenarios from mindlessly spending money.
It’s easy to believe it’s impossible to become debt-free. That’s not the truth.
It is possible to pay off debt. You can even do it quickly.
The key is to start your journey with a flexible plan. That will guide your debt payoff efforts and help ensure you will be free from the shackles of debt before you know it.
What are some other ways you can think of to pay off debt faster? If you’ve paid off debt, what was the one painful thing you gave up to kill your debt?