This “11 Ways to Pay Off Debt Fast ” post details various ways that one can adopt in order to eliminate debt fast without resorting to bankruptcy. This post contains affiliate links/ads. See disclosure policy.
Who likes debt? Nobody. But a lot of us live in debt and want to get out of it fast. Some of us have tried our best to get rid of it but failed.
It can get frustrating especially when you really want to get out of the debt hole but feel hopeless because you've done everything you could.
My wife and I were on the same boat a couple of years ago. We were in debt to the tune of $40K. I was the only one working in the family and wasn't making a whole lot of money.
We didn't want to live a life full of debt and other negative consequences that came with it. So, we decided to pay it off. We did it in 2.5 years.
We also managed to save at least $75K during that time. Yes, we managed to pay off debt of ours to the tune of $40K and saved at least $75K, at the same time, in 2.5 years.
In this post, I like to share with you some of the ways you can adopt to pay off debt. These are the ones we used to help us pay off our debt fast.
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11 Ways to Pay Off Debt Fast
According to the 2015 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), one in 3 households carries debt from one month to another. It’s a staggering statistics, nevertheless, true.
Incurring a mountain of credit card debt is easy but getting out of it is a nightmare and challenging to say the least. Credit card debt will continue to haunt you unless something is done about it.
While you may think that there are no other ways to get out of it except to file for bankruptcy, the truth is, there are ways to tackle and solve the problem.
Consider the following ways to pay off debt of yours before jumping into the world of bankruptcy.
1. Spend what you can afford to pay.
The golden rule to paying off debt fast is to first learn how to curb your spending habits. This means, you need to spend what you can only afford to pay. Only until you can execute this exercise well, you won't be able to pay off your debt fast.
There's an old saying that if you can't pay in cash, then, don't buy that item at all. If you can put the amount in your credit and pay off that amount in full when it's due, then, you can buy it.
My wife and I always set aside money right away when we buy something on credit. If we put $10.00 in our credit card, we transfer $10.00 right away to our spending checking account.
This way, when due dates come, we can pay our bills in full and on time.
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2. Revisit your credit report.
When you are trying to pay off your debt, you need to check your credit report.
Understanding and keeping your credit in a good state can and will help you pay off your debt fast by reducing your payments on loans and other debts over time since a better credit can give you access to lower interest rates.
Lower interest rates mean lower payments to interest and more payments to and the faster you can pay off those outstanding debts. When those payments to debts decrease, then, you have more money to keep for more important purposes.
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3. Create a realistic budget and stick with it.
This is one of the steps on how to pay off debt quickly. Developing a budget that maps both your income and expenses is critical to getting out of debt.
By knowing how much your net income is, you’ll know how much extra money you have, which is also called a surplus, or if you are in the negative, which is a deficit.
Gail Cunningham of the NFCC indicates that it is almost always better to cut back than to cut out. I totally agree with her statement.
The aim should always be to increase your surplus and use it towards your credit cards.With a realistic budget, you can get a clear picture as to which areas (e.g. grocery, gas, and miscellaneous expense) you overspend and need to cut down.
This will free up some money for credit card payments.
When my wife and I were paying off our debt, we used (and still use) the Budget Binder Printables to help us effectively budget and manage our money. These printables have continuously helped our family get our budget in control and save a ton of money even on a single income.
4. Pay off the card with the highest interest rates.
It sounds intuitive to do just that. But if you have a card with a high balance but lower interest rate and a card with low balance and high interest rate, then, the decision to which one gets tackled first becomes difficult.
There are two strategies to paying off your credit cards, both of which have pros and cons.
Con: You run the risk of paying off the cards (with low outstanding balances) that might also have the lowest interest rates. If that happens, then, you will be paying more interest in the long-run because the cards that are at the bottom of your to-be paid list are those with high interest rates.
Con: It may take you a while to see the cards getting paid off because these cards tend to have high outstanding balances.
If you are motivated to eliminate your debts in shorter time and pay less in interest as a result, then, almost always try to pay off the card with the highest interest rates.
Though you may not see the immediate effects of the avalanche method, you’ll save more on total interest paid in the long-run.
5. Earn more and cut more.
The best way to increase your income is through earning extra money. Frankly, this may be one of the best ways on how to pay off debt in a year.
This can done by working on a second job, establishing and operating a business on the side, or anything along that line.
My wife and I, for example, run this blog, which helps us make more than $10K a month spending 15 hours/mo on blogging.
In addition, we also take surveys, which net us around $200-$300/mo just by voicing our opinions.
On the same token, the best way to decrease your expenses is to cut more on unnecessary expenses.
Now, there may be an increase in expenses tied to getting a second job or business on the side. But the key point here is to a have surplus than a deficit.There are ways to cut down on expenses.
Go over line by line on your budget and see where you can make adjustments. It may involve cutting back on travel, eating out, among others.
If you want drastic adjustments, you can cancel your cable subscription and switch to Netflix or Hulu, just for example.
If you really are dedicated to paying off your credit cards, you’ll make sacrifices in the short-term in exchange for something better in the long-run.
The more committed you are, the easier it is for you to take away some unnecessary wants in your life.
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6. Renegotiate terms and conditions with your creditors.
If you don't have much income, renegotiating debt's terms and conditions with your creditors is one of the doable ways on how to pay off debt fast with low income.
When your savings are already gone, relatives have been asked for assistance, and money from the second job isn’t enough, it’s never bad to renegotiate terms with your creditors. The worse response you can get from creditors is “no at this time”.
Explain to your creditors your situation and ask for payment plans, interest waivers, or something along those lines. Communicate to them that with your current situation, you won’t be able to pay your debt and may resort to bankruptcy instead.
You’ll be surprised what other options these creditors may give you. If taking to your creditors don’t work the first time, communicate again a few weeks later. What do you have to lose except your time and effort?
7. Get a personal loan.
There’s an adage that do not pay debt with another debt. I totally agree with the statement, that is, in general. But a personal loan is an exception at a certain extent. Personal loans are among the underutilized and overlooked products for those who want to get out debt faster.
The important factor to remember when getting a personal loan is the interest rate. If the loan’s has a 5% APR and your credit card rates are higher, which are usually in double-digits, then, personal loans are a good way to eliminate your debts by making less payments on interests.
My wife and I took a personal loan with an interest rate of 2.5%. We used that to pay off our credit card debts, which had around 14.99% annual interest rate. By doing this, we save thousands of dollars in interest.
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Having said that, there are other considerations to include in the equation when getting a personal one.
Term of the Loan. Care must be taken in order to ensure that the loan’s term is consistent with your budget and your goals. If the monthly payment is not within your budget, then, the loan may not be your best option.
Use this Personal Loan Calculator For All Situations to find the best loan for you.
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8. Make a list of your debts.
This is one of the steps to pay off debt. It is much easier to say that your credit card debt total this amount or that amount.
But until you sit down and note all the amounts and interest rates, you won’t know the truth about your credit card situation.
By understanding which card has the biggest balance, highest interest, or the polar opposites, you can devise a strategy on how to address your credit card situation.
9. Consolidate your debts to pay off debt.
This is one of the best ways on how to pay off debt and raise credit score as well.
From time to time, credit card companies offer debt consolidation promotions for their customers. If you are offered such opportunity, consider grabbing that as soon as possible. But don’t consolidate just for the sake of consolidation.
Offers come with a 3-5% one-time balance transfer charge and you should factor this in when deciding whether to consolidate or not.
Second consideration is to determine which card will be used to consolidate all other credit cards. If your card with the lower interest rate has a debt consolidation offer, then, avail the offer and transfer your credit cards with much higher interest rates to it.
Even when paying the same amount per month collectively, you will actually be paying less in interest through consolidation versus individually paying the cards.
If you are lucky, some companies offer debt consolidation with no interest charge for a couple of months.
If that happens, grab such offer but make sure you do your due diligence of calculating whether it’s the best route to go for.
If the offer is only for 3 month and the fee is 3%, it may not be financially sound to do such consolidation. However, if it’s a 12-month offer or longer at a one-time 3% fee, then, that’s something worth considering.
Taking out a personal loan, which I discussed earlier, is one of those ways to consolidate your debts.
Or you can get another credit card with much lower interest rate and has promotional effort. Just make sure you pay off your credit cards on time.
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10. Get a loan from a family or friend.
By far, this is one of the viable ways on how to pay off debt with no money. Of course, no still need to pay what you owe from your family and friends.
Loans from family or friends, at times, come with a really low interest rate or, sometimes, doesn’t come with interest at all. But it also comes with the issues of leniency, trust, and commitment.
If those issues are already taken care of, then, a loan from your loved ones may be a ticket to your quest of eliminating your debt faster. Always make sure that your loan agreement is formalized to avoid strain in relationship.
11. Cash out part of your savings.
Cashing out part of your savings can be one of the best ways to pay off debt.
This is a tricky situation and always think twice before dipping into your savings account. Savings account typically pay less than 1%, at the most, a year and your credit card interest rates hover way above that. Sometimes, it’s foolish to stick your money into your savings when it’s only making a few percentage above zero.
Even with investments such as stocks and mutual funds, if you have a credit card with 10% APR, then, you will need more than 10% return/year in investments before federal and states included in the equation to arrive at a net 10% return/year.
For example, if you’re credit card’s APR is 15%, pay it off using savings money. You’ll feel like getting 15% in return with little to no risk on your part. As always, make sure you don’t cash out all your savings and leave those emergency funds intact.
12. Borrow against your life insurance.
Got a permanent life insurance with cash value that you can tap into? If your answer is a yes, then, you may consider borrowing against your policy. Typically, the interest charge for loans against your policy is way below personal loan rates and your credit card interest rates.
You really are borrowing your money and the interest you get charged, at times, will be returned to your policy, which is yours. So, the interest goes back to you. Isn't it a clever way to pay off debt that you have?
14. Make two or more separate payments.
This is one of the steps to pay off debts fast. Interest is calculated on a daily outstanding balance not when the account is due. It goes to say if you are paying your card the day it’s due, its better if you change when you pay your debt.
There’s a difference in interest calculated when two payments are made on different days versus a one-time payment in a month even when the monthly total payment is the same.
If you can afford to pay the day after the statement is closed, that’s even better than waiting for the due date to come around.
For example, the due date is on the 23rd and the closing date is the 25th. If you regularly pay on the due date, then, you would pay on the 23rd. On the 26th, you will pay again to cover the due for the new billing cycle.
After that, your new payment schedule should be the 26th. You don’t have to worry about not paying on the due date because you’ve already paid the amount several weeks ahead of the due date.
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Making a new start in the way you tackle and handle debt is hard at first but once you get a handle of it, it’s going to be a second nature. Next thing you know, you’re done paying that awful, life-sucking credit card debt. If you ask me if I have done all of these to eliminate my debt, the answer is yes.
I have done these ways to pay off debts of mine. I have been free from debt for a couple of months now.
What have you done to pay off debt of yours? Do you know of any other ways to pay it off?