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Whether you’ve found yourself with a higher credit card balance than you can pay, you’ve had some unplanned expenses or you’ve lost a source of income, you may have some short-term debt to pay off. You may even feel that your debt is getting in the way of other personal and financial priorities.
Fortunately, there are effective techniques for paying off your short-term debt so you can focus on other financial goals. These steps can help you get started.
1. Rework your budget
Start by finding extra money in your budget. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it does have to be enough so you can stop adding to your debt and start paying off the amounts you owe. There are lots of money-saving ideas out there, and every little bit can help. Instead of buying books, use the library. Bring lunch to work. Combine your auto and homeowners insurance policies to receive a discount, if possible. Start with one or two strategies. Once they become habits, consider adopting another. This frees up money you can put toward your debts.
2. Earn extra income
In addition to limiting expenses where you can, you can also begin earning extra income that you'll use to pay down your debts. Consider taking on a side job to earn extra money. Look for short-term work you can do when you have free time. Driving a rideshare vehicle, freelancing online, walking dogs or tutoring students are all great options that you can start doing easily.
3. Categorize your debts
Make a list of all the debts you have. You can sort these debts in one of two ways: from the smallest balance to the largest, or from the highest interest rate to the lowest. Once you have them listed in one place, you’ll be able to choose your strategy for paying them off.
4. Choose your payoff strategy
There are many strategies for paying off debt. Some people find that paying off a smaller debt is very exciting and gives them momentum to keep going. However, the debt with the highest interest rate costs you the most money over time. Remember that you aren’t stuck in your choice; as long as you’re paying your minimum balances, you can change your strategy for paying off the rest at any time.
5. Reduce other debt
Refinancing can free up money that you're currently paying toward a loan by lowering your interest rate. When you refinance, you’re replacing your original loan that has a higher interest rate with a new loan that has a lower interest rate. The lender for the new loan pays off the old loan, and you make payments toward the new loan. If you have a debt like an auto loan or student loan, you can refinance it and use the extra money you were paying on it to put toward your short-term debts.
6. Keep a record
Make sure to keep a record of how much you’re paying off so you can see your progress. This will help you stay on track and will give you encouragement to keep going.