I am going to take a different approach than most for helping you pay off your debt. Research shows that we know what to do it is our behavior that holds us back. The motivation piece and the feeling like we are getting nowhere. Let’s dive in.
“Do what is hard and life is easier, do what is easy and life is much more difficult”.
First start out by envisioning your future. What do you want to have, to do, to be. This is in any area of your life both material and non-material items. It complies all your desires, hopes, and dreams that you have and once had. It may be a thing you haven’t thought about in a while because of the stress you have been under with the debt.
I would encourage you to complete this step before moving on. Don’t hold back. Think BIG! Later you can come back and prioritize if you like. Like a bucket list you can check it off when you completed it. The key here is you are creating a BIG enough WHY to propel you in paying off your debt. By constantly and consistently referring back to this you will know what you are doing and WHY you are doing it. You can create your own personal mission/vision statement out of this list.
Your WHY must be BIG enough for you to take more action than what you are currently doing. What do plan to do with the money after the debt is gone? Do you plan to put that money towards your future so you can live a comfortable and even early retirement? Early retirement out of the picture you may be thinking. Well, I don’t know your situation but maybe that is a big enough WHY for you. The WHY should give you goosebumps. What kind of person do you want to BE? Does that kind of person have debt? Is that person disciplined and focused to living their highest selves?
Dream, Hopes, Desires (Material and Non-Material)
*This list is just an example to get your mind going on the possibilities
I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said:
YOU must BE, before YOU can DO, and YOU must DO before YOU can HAVE.
Repeat that OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER AGAIN until it sinks in.
Make YOUR OWN list and put it somewhere where it is visible each and every day.
From this list you could create your own person vision for your future. This can help you stay consistently motivated as well. Because the truth of the matter there will be days where you will wonder what all this is for. Days will come where you don’t want to move forward anymore. Some days are just plain difficult. These are the days your vision and the list come into play. Don’t want for those days to pull them out of a drawer. Have them posted somewhere visible. Say them out loud everyday until you become that person.
Out of that list use it to create your vision. Below are a couple examples to keep your mind going. Again, create YOUR OWN though. These are just examples.
Personal Long-Term Vision: I “YOUR NAME” am a goal-oriented, focused, family-centered individual who is completely debt-free. I have amazing family relationships and have the time freedom and financial freedom to do what I want when I want!
Personal Long-Term Vision: I “YOUR NAME” am healthy, disciplined, goal-oriented, debt-free individual who experiences life to the fullest. I own my own business while having the time freedom and financial freedom to do what I want when I want!
HOW POWERFUL IS THAT?
Strategies to paying off debt
Step 1: Write/type all of your debt down on a piece of paper or spreadsheet. Make 6 columns including type of debt, current balance, minimum payment, interest rate, type of interest rate and payoff date.
Step 2: Choose a payment method/strategy. Pick either the debt snowball or the debt avalanche.
- Debt Snowball
- List debts from smallest to greatest balance. Ignore the interest rates.
- Make minimum payment on all except the smallest one.
- Put everything else towards the smallest one.
- Receive guaranteed return by doing so. (i.e. instead of credit card debt above earning 22% in interests putting you in greater debt. By paying more and eventually paying it off you guarantee yourself a 22% return.)
- Repeat this method from smallest to greatest until all debt is gone. Then Celebrate!
- Example from above would go subsidized student loan, unsubsidized student loan, car loan, credit card.
- Debt Avalanche
- List debts from largest to smallest interest rate. Ignore the balance.
- Make minimum payments on all except the largest interest rate.
- Put everything else toward the one with the largest interest rate.
- This method provides you the biggest return on your dollar because you are getting that guaranteed higher rate of return on your money by paying off the higher interest rate first.
- Example from above go credit card, car loan, unsubsidized student loan, then subsidized student loan.
Pick one of those methods and stick with it! Don’t stress too much over which one should you do. Pick one and start attacking. YOU can do this! Believe it! Put the list on your fridge or your bathroom mirror. Somewhere where it is constantly visible. Next to your vision so you know what your shooting for can work wonders.
Strategies to avoid in most cases
- Debt consolidation
- This can be intriguing very often because it puts all your loans into one seemingly easy payment with a possibly lower interest rate.
- Be careful as many times it extends the life of your loan, especially if you don’t attack them and pay more than the minimum.
- Be careful that it may be a variable interest rate that goes up over time on you. They do a bait and switch with that low interest rate at first.
- Debt settlement
- This promise you will here from debt settlement companies will be that they will talk to your creditors and they will take care of your debt. “Don’t worry we will handle it.”
- Sorry to say but life doesn’t work that way. What will happen is you will pay the debt settlement companies a fee and then realize that you still have your debt that you need to pay off. Plus, you lost that time by messing with the debt settlement company option. Looking for the easy way out.
- 401(k) loans
- This idea is awful! You are stealing from your future self!
- You will have to pay fees, penalties and taxes. Then you still have to pay it back
- Home Equity Loans
- This option you can risk losing your house if you don’t pay it off. Not worth the risk.
The four above strategies are risky and really is avoiding the underlying problem of trying to find an easy way out of getting rid of the debt. Getting rid of debt and making your life better is no small matter. It will pay enormous dividends for you WHEN you succeed. Stick to it!
Bottom Line: Choose the debt snowball or debt avalanche either will work, if you work one of them! Paying off debt isn’t easy but it is doable! Many people have done it before and many more will do it in the future. Let the next one be YOU! Make a plan and stick to the plan! By picking a strategy and attacking it you save yourself thousands in interest over the course of your loan.
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