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The first step in any personal financial venture is to sit down and simply look at all of the numbers by putting together a monthly budgeting plan. You can do this manually or look at any number of online budgeting apps explicitly designed to make it easier.
Using apps like Everdollar or Honeydue to help put all the numbers in one place might be an excellent place to start.
You can even search for the best personal finance books to help you.
Many personal finance gurus out there might just focus on telling you to go out and budget, but it’s not even about budgeting. The chances are that if you find yourself in unmanageable debt, you might not even know what your family’s cash flow looks like.
Using a budgeting app or service will allow you to get all of the information on the table.
You may even find that you’re paying for things that you either forgot about or don’t really use with any regularity.
This allows you to start making easy cuts to your spending and can usually free up tens or hundreds per month in an afternoon.
Once all the numbers are figured out you should know exactly how much money is coming in and how much money is going out each month.
At that point, you can start focusing on the debts. As the saying goes: knowing is half the battle. Once you know what your debt hurdle actually looks like, you can start forming a plan to attack it and reduce it piece by piece.
When it comes to student loans and credit cards, it’s important to remember that these two types of debt are quite different. Student loans, for instance, are usually much larger and come with lower interest rates. On the other hand, credit cards are (hopefully) less than the typical student loan or combined balance of student loans, but they have much higher interest rates.
That’s why we’re here – to figure out how to start prioritizing when you have many different types, balances, and interest rates associated with your debts.
These tips will help give you tools to chip away at your debts far faster than you might think, especially if you followed the advice at the start and put your cash flow and budget together.
The first thing you need to do on your debt repayment journey is list all of your debt top to bottom with their associated interest rates right next to them.
Don’t worry about organizing them yet – we’ll get to that.
If you want to write them all down, that’s perfectly acceptable. However, even a program as simple as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets can be an excellent way just to put them all in a list. You can then reorganize them with relative ease and start to get a mental priority list going.
Even though we said victories are important early on, you need to limit how much you reward yourself early on. The more you deviate from the goal, the further away you get from paying off all of your debts.
However, with each debt paid off, you should definitely let yourself bask in the victory.
Maybe go out to dinner for once or buy a small thing you’ve been thinking about. Keep it small, then party (within reason) once it’s all gone.
Related Blog: Debt Payoff Coloring Sheets
Many people on the internet tell you how to pay off debts and why it’s so important. At the end of the day, how you get there really doesn’t matter. There is so much material about it because it’s a huge hindrance to progress for many people, so just know that you aren’t alone in your struggle.
If you find it’s all too much, you can always find help somewhere – anywhere – to help put things in perspective and come up with a plan to figure it out.
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