Being in debt can feel like you're drowning under financial obligations. It's not too late to get back on top though. Read on to learn how to get out of debt and live debt-free.
Take a Hard Look at Your Spending
Before you can address your debt, you need to take a hard look at your spending. You should gather your monthly pay stubs, bank statements and credit card statements. Then you can determine how much you're spending, and compare that to how much you're making. Note where most of your money goes each month. You should find out if you are you spending more on necessities or extras.
Establish a Budget
Once you've analyzed your spending, you can begin to lay out a monthly budget. Assess what you need to spend each month and what you want to spend. Consider this your get-out-of-debt plan, and don't forget to include your regular credit card or other debt payments each month. Personal finance software is an easy way to automate this process. You can input your monthly spending and earning projections, and let the budget program automatically download the data from your credit card and bank accounts.
Reduce Spending Where Possible
Sometimes small purchases you make all the time turn out to be the biggest threats to your ability to get out of debt. When you're setting a budget, don't overlook the little things, like a daily cup of coffee or a regular lunch out with friends. These charges can add up and significantly impact your budget. Assess if these expenses are important or meaningless, and reduce your spending as necessary.
Pay Off Your Credit Cards Quickly
Whether you have one or several credit cards, it's important to pay them off as quickly as possible, preferably before they begin to generate interest-related charges. If you have a balance on one card, simply pay as much as your budget allows each month. If you have multiple cards, be sure to pay each minimum every month, and focus your energy on reducing the balance on one card at a time. Consider transferring all of your credit card debt to a single low-interest card to reduce the number of payments you have to juggle each month.
Set Goals & Reward Yourself
As you get used to working with a budget, it's important to motivate yourself to meet both big and small goals. If your primary goal is meeting your monthly budget, what are some of the big-ticket items you're working toward? Do you want to pay off all of your debts, buy a new car or send the kids to college? Incorporate both goals and regular rewards into your budget. After all, getting out of debt is nothing less than arduous if you don't congratulate yourself on the victories along the way.
Don't Hesitate to Adjust
Though it's best to set goals that work with your monthly earning and spending patterns, remember that personal budgets aren't set in stone. Whether your income fluctuates or your typical expenses aren't exactly what you predicted they would be, sometimes your budget warrants a second look. If you find that your budget just isn't working for you, don't hesitate to adjust it. Make sure it reflects your financial reality and allows you to meet larger goals you've set for yourself. Ultimately, managing your finances effectively should help you make smart decisions and find ways to get out of debt.
Don't let another day go by. Analyze your spending, establish a budget and set goals to begin living debt-free. Now that you know how to get out of credit card debt, make the choice to start today.