Having debt is overwhelming and frustrating enough without having a broken record in your ear about what you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to paying off debt and actually remaining debt-free. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing works, or you’re just looking for a new take on an incredibly common problem, you should know that there are experts out there advising paying clients every day, sharing only the best, most proven options for saving money and tackling debt.
Whether you have no idea where to start when it comes to debt or you’re just looking for some fresh suggestions on how to become more financially savvy, here are the top six tips financial experts share with their paying clients about how to become debt-free and stay that way.
Use The Debt Ladder Method
Never heard of the debt ladder method? You’re probably not alone. But financial consultant and president of Sexton Advisory Group Steve Sexton says it’s a great first step to becoming debt-free. “One of the best ways to build momentum in paying down debt is by paying off your payments in a systematic fashion. First, get an accurate grasp of what you owe start by listing all your debt by name, balance, payment date, minimum payments and interest rate. Pay off as much as you can on the first debt you want to pay off, while making minimum payments on the rest of your debts,” Sexton says. “Once you have paid off the first debt, apply that same amount to the second until you’ve paid off all your debt.”
Check Your W2
Sexton also says checking your W2 may be a smart way to tackling debt. “If you have significant debt, consider checking your W2 and tax return from the prior year to see if you can maximize your bi-weekly or monthly paychecks so we can pay off the debt throughout the year” instead of waiting until tax season to receive your tax refund, Sexton says. “If you received a $3,600 tax refund or more last year, consider this switch since this can translate to an extra $300/month, which you can apply immediately to paying off your debt payments.”
Think About Interest Rates
If you haven’t thought about interest rates when it comes to tackling debt issues yet, it might be time to start, according to Sexton. “If interest rates on debt are low, it might make sense to set aside money for an emergency fund this is your rainy-day fund for unexpected bills or emergencies, which will prevent you from having to use credit cards or dip into your savings in the future. That said, if credit card interest rates are high, consider paying down the debt first,” Sexton says.
Get An Odd Job, Even If You Think It Won’t Make A Difference
Getting a job or small side hustle may seem like it won’t make a difference, but Sexton begs to differ. “Many of my clients have fast-tracked their path to being debt-free by taking on additional work, like driving for a ride share company several days a week or taking on consulting jobs here and there,” Sexton sys. “While the amount may seem nominal, the extra $400 to $500 a month you make from these odd jobs can make an impactful dent in your debt in the long-term.”
Throw Away Your Bills Eventually
Have a stack of paid and unpaid bills sitting in a corner somewhere, making you feel anxious? Make a new habit of throwing out every bill you’ve paid immediately. “Once a bill is paid—trash it!” says Roshawnna Novellus, financial expert and CEO of EnrichHER.com. “You will feel a sense of empowerment that you have conquered a goal which will push you to keep conquering. It really works!”
Combine Your Debt Into One Payment
Novellus also suggest grouping all your debt together. While this may make it seem more overwhelming at first, it can help streamline your monthly payments. “There are a ton of programs, websites and apps that help with debt-consolidation. They take all of your debt and combine it into one monthly payment that you can afford—even lowering your monthly interest rate. Sometimes seeing one payment as opposed to seven makes it easier to pay down and less stressful,” Novellus says.