Debt is the nasty little gift that keeps on giving. Constantly growing and taunting you with interest and minimum payments.

Left unchecked debt can spiral out of control. The good news is that there are lots of different strategies to help you tackle your debt. Many people have been in the same situation and they’re now living debt free. It just takes some planning and dedication to get out of debt.

Debt elimination is possible. Put debt in its place by doing these three things…

 

1. Create A Plan

To get out of debt, choose one of these three basic debt repayment strategies. Debt snowball, debt avalanche or debt snowball/avalanche hybrid.

By using the snowball method, you order your debts from smallest to largest. You make the minimum payment on each debt and then throw any additional money at the smallest one first. Once you pay off your smallest debt then start throwing extra money at the next smallest. Hence the snowball.

Using the avalanche method means you order your debt starting with the highest interest rate down to the smallest interest rate. You make the minimum payment on each debt and then throw any additional money at the one with the highest interest rate first. When you pay off your highest interest rate debt you move to the next highest until you’re at the last debt. You start high and end low, hence the avalanche.

The hybrid method uses a little of both. You order your debts from smallest to largest, just like the snowball method, but if two debts are similar in size then you pay the one with the highest interest rate first. This gives you a quick psychological boost like the snowball method but saves you a bit of interest like the avalanche method.

Lean more about the pro’s and con’s of each method and how to decide which debt repayment strategy is right for you.

 

2. Find More Money To Throw At Your Debt

Paying even a little bit more each month can have a huge impact on your debt. Paying an extra $100 per month against a $6,000 credit card debt could mean being debt free 27 months earlier! That’s an extra two years of being debt free!

Not only will you pay off you debt faster but you’ll save a boat-load of interest expense. The extra payments would total $2,800 but the interest saved would be over $2,500. That’s almost a 1:1 return on your money. The only way to get that kind of return on your money is to go gambling, and this is much safer.

Ok, the benefits are clear, but finding a bit more money to throw at your debt can be tough. The first step to finding more money is to create a budget. Prioritize your spending and try to squeeze a little bit more from your spending budget to decrease your debt faster. Be ruthless. Finding even a bit more money can have a big impact.

A second way to find more money to throw at your debt is to get a second job. Bartend. Retail. Umpire softball games. It doesn’t mater. Even a few extra $’s will make a huge difference.

A third way is to get a side hustle. Use a skill that you already have to freelance on the side and earn a bit of extra income. Check out places like Upwork or Freelance. These freelance marketplaces are a great place to find a small side hustle that requires less commitment than a second job (Watch out though, these freelance marketplaces often pay below minimum wage when you’re starting out. Finding a second job may be a better return on your time)

 

3. Visualize Your Goal

Make a visual representation of your goal. Maybe it’s just me but when my wife and I were paying down our debt, we found we were checking our progress almost daily. To visualize your goal, break your large goal into smaller pieces. You then make a phsical represenation of those pieces and put it somewhere visible in your home.

This could be as simple as pieces of paper with your monthly payment printed on it. Stick those pieces of paper on your wall at home or behind your bedroom door. Every time you make a monthly payment take down one of those pieces and tear it up. Watching your debt disappear each month is a great visual way to reinforce your habit.

You can get fancier with colourful progress maps and visualizations, it’s completely up to you.

The key is to visualize your debt in some way. This will help remind you of why you’re putting all this extra effort towards paying off your debts. It will also feel great to take down that payment goal every two weeks or every month.

 

Confused? We love questions!

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Owen Winkelmolen

Owen Winkelmolen

Founder of PlanEasy Inc.

An avid traveler, father and personal finance expert. Owen's goal is to make financial planning easy. He believes that objective and straightforward financial planning is something that every Canadian should have access to. Find out why.

2 Comments

  1. MMP

    Great overview Owen! I suggest tracking your spending for at least a month, 2-3 is even better. This will help identify where all your money is going. You may find you have some leaks you need to plug.

    Reply
    • Owen

      That’s a great point MMP. Meticulously tracking expenses for even a month can be an eye opener. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

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