Firstly, you rock.
Listen, I get it. It’s easy to get into debt. Having debt reflects past decisions. Today is a new day. And today, you want to pay it off. Congratulations for coming to that decision!
When you find yourself in a hole, the first step is to stop digging.
That means chopping up your credit cards and putting a freeze on them so you can’t charge more.
That’s step one, but what if you have several credit cards, an auto loan, a house mortgage, and some student loans? Where should you start? This is where it could make a lot of sense to talk to a financial planner, but generally speaking, you want to tackle your credit card debt first.
In the financial world, there is a big debate when it comes to paying off credit card debt.
Do you do the snowball approach and pay off the small balances first and then tackle the larger debt, or do you pay off the debt with the highest interest rates first?
They both miss the bigger point. If you have debt, good on you for making an effort to pay it down. The “how” is essentially meaningless. Pay off the smaller balances? Pay off the higher interest rate balances? Whatever. Don’t focus so much on how you are going to pay down the debt each month, focus instead on how much you can pay down the debt each month.
Big difference. Huge difference.
Here’s how you can pay down more of your debt each month:
1. Cut your expenses. Every dollar you don’t spend is a dollar you can use to loosen the debt noose around your neck.
2. Make more money. Yes! Focus on how you can make more money. Second job? Overtime? Start a freelancing business? If you had to make an extra $100 a week, what would you do? No, really. If your life depended on it, and it does, how can you make an extra $100 a week? You could solve your problem in a fraction of the time by making a bit more money and using it all to slash your debt.
Remember, it’s not about which strategy you use to pay off your debt; it’s making the decision you are going to pay off your debt, cutting up your cards, and coming up with ways for you to pay down your debt more each month. That’s how you become debt-free in record time. It’s not the snowball approach; it’s the freakin’ avalanche approach.
The proceeding blog post is an excerpt from Get Money Smart: Simple Lessons to Kickstart Your Financial Confidence & Grow Your Wealth, available now on Amazon.
About the Independent Financial Advisor
Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.