Have you ever been fed up? Like really, really fed up? That was me not long ago after struggling with debt year after year until I was completely exhausted.
I decided that it was time to put on my big girl panties and finally face the fact that I wasn’t doing a good job of managing my money. My money was managing me. It was time to seriously squash the debt in my life.
I joined a financial wellness program to better educate myself on how to effectively eliminate debt, and it literally changed my life. I was able to pay off close to $50,000 during the first 16 months of my debt-slaying journey!
Here are some of the tips I took advantage of to pay down my debt so quickly.
Figure out where your debt exists.
Sounds obvious, but the first thing I needed to do was take a long, honest look at where my debt existed. Facing up to your debt can be scary and discouraging, but if you’re going to tackle it, you have to face it.
To get started, I outlined every single outstanding debt I owed, from the smallest amount to the largest. This helped me figure out how much money I needed to spend on debt each month and where I needed to start.
If you need help doing the same, check out the Debt Repayment tool in the Nav.it app. It can calculate your monthly debt payment or help you determine how much you’ll need to meet a planned goal on a future date.
Work with a zero-dollar budget.
I created a zero-dollar budget in Excel, and watched it like a hawk. Like the name suggests, this type of budget always ends with ZERO! That means that after covering all of my living expenses and necessities, every single dollar (and cent) was thrown at my debt.
I had to create my budget from scratch but luckily for you Navi.gators, the nav.it money app has an amazing budgeting tool if you need a little help in this area. Creating a budget allowed me to take back my control and start managing my money instead of wondering where it went every month (and how it disappeared so fast!).
Try the Snowball Effect.
Remember how I outlined all of my outstanding debt from smallest to largest? Well, I started knocking it out in that order, too. Once I paid off one debt, I used the money I would’ve spent to cover its monthly payment and added it to the next largest debt.
This is called the snowball effect. You still need to make the minimum payment on all debts, except the one that has the extra money thrown at it.
I love this tactic for two reasons. One, it allows you to remain super focused on a strategic path of elimination. You aren’t trying to spread your money across multiple debts. Two, you build great momentum because of the strategic focus. It gets easier once you become used to the process, and you become more and more encouraged as a result of the progress. #celebratesmallwins
(Pst… if that strategy doesn’t work for you, check out the avalanche strategy.)
Try the Envelope System.
Let’s be honest…it’s easier to swipe a piece of plastic and assess the damage later than it is to hand over your hard-earned, cold cash. I allocated specific dollar amounts to certain categories within my budget (restaurants, gas, spending, grocery, entertainment, etc.) and then filled category-specific envelopes with cash.
Once the cash was gone, it was GONE! And remember, I used a zero-dollar budget so there was no swiping of the debit card once the envelope was empty. This helped me stay on track with my budget and eliminated the temptation to fall back into the habit of spontaneous or unnecessary spending.
Say bye-bye to plastic.
Once a debt was paid, I divorced it. I celebrated my accomplishments by shredding the plastic I had worked so hard to pay off. It was a constant reminder to stay on my path towards debt-free living and maintain my newfound habit of using cash (cash that had a designated home in my budget) for the things I wanted and needed.
Be kind to yourself on your journey.
Listen, my journey has had its ups and downs. While I made amazing success during the first year and a half, I fell off the wagon several times after that. I’m still marching toward a completely debt-free status. I’ve never given up on myself though, and you shouldn’t either.
Eliminating every penny of debt takes an extreme amount of focus and discipline, and on top of that, life happens. Give yourself grace when things don’t go as planned, and then pick back up where you left off. (Sounds like we’re talking about having the right mindset.)
Like I said, tackling debt can be scary and even discouraging at times, but the Nav.it money app has you covered with tools that will most certainly help you along the way. It’s time to take control of your money and start slaying debt. Slay Navi.gator, slay!
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