Football season is in full swing, school is deep in session, and the weather is shifting for sure. So, let's tackle a problem that more and more American's are facing every year. Would you love to implement strategies in the coming year for reducing debt?
According to a Pew Survey on Debt, at least 80% of Americans are trudging through some sort of debt to their name. Before we go any further, I want to address two forms of "debt reduction" that might come with some setbacks...so these are only for the worst cases - and most people can reduce debt without these strategies:
- Debt Settlement: This method means inviting a third party to negotiate outstanding debt in your name. However, it's deceiving in that you often end up paying more out of pocket than if you had just taken on the debt yourself.
- Debt Consolidation: The consolidation method is used by companies that essentially roll all your debt into one lump sum, then charge you at a lower interest rate. And although that seems nice to start with, it actually (usually) just means you'll be in debt for a longer period of time.
So let's look instead at three simpler methods you can use for reducing debt. Of course, nothing worth doing well is going to be a quick fix. But if you start today, you can begin chipping away at debt and get back on track ASAP.
Get the Big Picture
List out all your debts (ALL DEBTS)
It's incredibly hard to chase after goals that aren't clear or concrete. The first thing I want you to do is list out all the debt you have. Ideally, find a room with a whiteboard and go to town. This is helpful because you can snap a picture afterward.
When you list out all your debts, make sure you organize the list from the smallest debt you have to the largest. You will use this list as a reference guide throughout the duration of your debt domination. It might seem discouraging to list it all out at once, but view it as looking your enemy in the face -- now you know who you're fighting; now you can go and win the fight. This will help for when you...
Make minimum payments on large debt first. Then think small. Again, with your debt listed out for reference, start with those larger payments and the minimum payments you can start putting toward each piece of debt."How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
Now, the smaller pieces of debt that come along -- medical bills, short-term bank loans, etc. -- are still very important to pay off. But you can eliminate them in one fell swoop through hard work and dedication. What does that look like exactly? In today's gig economy, picking up a "side hustle" or small job on the side is doable and advantageous for your resume/career. It also is a smart strategy to say, "All the money from this side gig will go toward paying off X debt."
Paying off debt isn't a cake walk, but the sooner you pay it off, the less guilty you feel eating cake.
Paying off debt should be consistent ... until it's gone! Eating an elephant is no small task. But persistence is IMPERATIVE when it comes to reducing debt.
In addition, while you are on this quest -- please don't get discouraged when other people post pictures or talk about living a debt-free life. Those people crossed their finish line. And good for them! It's an accomplishment worth celebrating. But you have YOUR race to run. And it might take a few extra months or years, but imagine the payoff. That's what I want for you, your friends and family.
Please reach out if you have any further questions on reducing debt. I'd love to help you take the first step. Everyone's story is different -- everyone's story is important.
As a proactive accounting firm, Emerald Financial Partners can help you or your business with tax planning and debt reducing strategies. Schedule a consultation now!