5 Sure-Fire Ways to Start Killing Your Debt Next Year
Having dealt with this myself, I know how easy it can be to believe that it's impossible to pay off debt. You begin to believe you can't live without it. You begin to believe that everyone has debt and it's no big deal that you do. Unfortunately, there are many who know this feeling well. Nearly 45 percent of Americans carry credit card debt –- with the average coming in at just shy of $11,000.
However, there are ways to kill your debt and get to where you want in life. I've interviewed Travis Pizel from Enemy of Debt to share his insights. Pizel and his wife recently finished paying off $109,000 of consumer debt in 55 months.
1. Don't Stay Isolated
When we're in debt, it's common to feel shame. We pull back and don't share what we're going through with others. If you want to kill your debt, you can't stay isolated. According to Pizel, "Do not underestimate the power of a support system. Surround yourself with people you can lean on, and who will offer you encouragement."
People in this support system will help you when the going gets tough. They're the ones you turn to when you're dealing with debt fatigue and are tempted to give up. If you have a significant amount of debt, it's also important to seek out debt relief programs and advisers who can help you hack away at your debt.
2. Act Now
Each day you delay your debt repayment is one more day it has to grow. Pizel's advice? Do something, anything. Pick a debt and just start paying extra on it. If extra money is an issue, then find ways to bring in some extra income as every little bit will help you pay off your debt quicker.
3. Turn Your Attitude On Its Head
Before I began to pay off my debt I had a serious case of the "I deserve it" attitude. If I had a long day at work, dealt with a difficult client or was just plain unhappy, I would tell myself that I deserved to buy myself something. That's one thing if it happens rarely, but it became a way of life.
If you want to pay off debt next year, this attitude must be turned on its head. Instead, focus on what it will feel like to be debt free. This attitude shift can be a difficult one to make, but is one that's vital if you want to move past the belief that debt is simply a way of life.
4. Track Everything
We've all heard it. Who wants to track their spending? The thing is that it works. I did it myself when I started killing my debt, and it's how I discovered where my money was going. As Pizel states, "you can't change what you don't track." Tracking your spending means just that, you keep track of how you spend every cent. This might seem laborious or impossible, but it can be done. Find a way to do it that works for you and use that knowledge to empower your approach to personal finance. After a few months you'll see what fat can be trimmed and will be able to throw even more money at debt repayment.
5. Get Disciplined
Discipline is the name of the game when it comes to paying off debt. Motivation and emotion are important, but they will only take you so far. When you are dealing with something as tiring and tedious as paying off debt, it can be difficult to motivate yourself day in and day out. This is where discipline comes in.
Discipline allows you to go on auto pilot as it just becomes automatic. This can be done with saving, putting money toward your debt each week/month/paycheck as well as spending. This discipline helps keep you on track while paying off debt -- as opposed to giving into the feeling you may be dealing with at the given moment.
If you want to start killing your debt in the new year, remember that it can be done. If you're diligent and get started, you can be that much closer to debt freedom sooner than you think.
John Schmoll is the founder of Frugal Rules, a finance blog that regularly discusses investing, budgeting and frugal living. He is a father, husband and veteran of the financial services industry who's passionate about helping people find freedom through frugality. He also writes about wise ways to manage your money at WiseDollar.org.