With so many things in life to worry about, like working out, eating healthy, or paying off debt, getting started is the hardest part. But what if you’re so early in your debt payoff journey that, quite frankly, you’re not even sure where the starting line is?
If that sounds like you, here’s what you need to know about where to start your debt payoff journey.
Establish Where You Are.
You can’t get started if you have no idea where you are. The reality is debt payoff is a journey that will last months, years, or decades depending on the type of debt and how much you have. And that means the very first thing you’ll need to do is outline all your debts, how much you owe on each, the minimum monthly payment, and the interest rate. Once you have this information, you can start to form a plan.
Decide Your Strategy.
Two of the most popular strategies to pay off debt faster are the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods. The debt snowball begins with aggressively paying off your smallest debt first, regardless of the interest rate. And you’ll do this while maintaining a minimum payment on all other debt. The debt snowball strategy tends to be great for those who might benefit from a quick win and early motivational boost. Once the smallest debt is paid, you’ll move on to the next largest debt and apply all of the excesses you were paying on the first debt to the second, thereby creating a larger monthly payment each time a debt is repaid.
The debt avalanche is similar, but it focuses on paying down the debt with the highest interest rate first, regardless of the size of your debt. Of course, that means it could be years before you actually finish paying the first debt. But ultimately, this strategy is best for those focused on saving the most money over time as you’ll pay less each month in interest.
With these two strategies in mind, choose the one that seems the most appropriate and most sustainable long-term.
Create a Plan and Stick to It.
With your overall debt picture and strategy in mind, it’s time to create your debt payoff plan. That means determining how much you’ll pay on each debt monthly and setting up any auto-drafts that might facilitate that goal. Leave as little as possible to chance by setting up reminders and alerts for debt payments. Making your debt repayment plan as automated as possible makes it much simpler to stick with it even when it might be easier to quit.
The beginning of your debt payoff journey is one of the most exciting places to be. The road ahead may seem long, but by figuring out where you are, deciding on a debt payoff strategy, and creating a plan you can stick with, you’ll be well down the path to debt freedom before you know it.