how to get out of debt

Thinking about how to escape debt can be worrying. At times, it can seem overwhelming if you believe that you’ll never be able to pay it off.

But a solid management plan can help solve the problem, provided you stick with it for the long haul. In the end, you’ll be in a better financial position and develop good fiscal habits that can help keep you out of debt.

Here are five steps you can take to get started:

1. Make a budget

When determining how to pay off debt, you have to know where you stand. A good place to start is to create a budget that lists your income and bills. List every bill you have to pay on a monthly basis along with your monthly income. Once you have everything written down, you can start working towards balancing your budget and paying off the debt.

2. Choose your best method for paying off debt

There are two schools of thought when it comes to building a debt management plan. Some believe it’s best to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. Others argue tackling the lowest balances is better.

Logically, paying off the highest rate first makes sense but, emotionally, going for the lowest balance may be more effective in giving you a feeling of control. Whichever option you choose to focus on first, aim to pay more than the minimum amount.

3. Decrease your interest rates

Higher interest rates translate to higher monthly payments and may mean you take longer to pay off your debt. Call your credit card companies to see if you can negotiate a lower rate. If that isn’t an option, you can also transfer your high-interest debts to a credit card with a lower interest rate to help you get out of debt, faster. Just ensure you find a credit card with a low or no balance transfer fee.

4. Set up automatic payments

Some months you may be busy and forget to pay your debts. Set up recurring, automatic payments so you are always on time rather than get hit with pricey late fees. Many companies offer incentives for automatic bill pay, which may help save you little money each month.

5. Talk to a financial professional

If you’re struggling to determine how to escape your debt, a reputable financial professional can explain options that you may not have considered. You may have to pay a fee for the service, but it can be worth the price if you’re struggling to create an effective debt reduction plan.

No matter which route you choose, paying off debt is difficult and takes discipline. Learn more personal finance tips to help keep you on budget and on track for retirement.