Eliminating your debt pays off in ways you may have never considered. Firstly, there are obvious reasons to crush your debt. Carrying high debt lowers your credit score. This makes it harder to buy big-ticket items such as houses or cars. High-interest rates mean that everything you purchase costs more than you think. That deal you got on a cool new sweater doesn’t sound as good when you add in 19% credit card interest. Plus, the more money you owe, the less you have in your pocket.
But there are other benefits too. Without debt, you’ll have fewer bills each month. No one likes bills. You’ll also lower your stress levels. People who don’t carry debt can spend money without feeling guilty. If you’re a parent, you can feel good about setting a positive example for your kids.
Crushing your debt may not be as difficult as you think. Follow these 5 steps and you’ll be well on your way to not only digging your way out of debt but maintaining a debt-free lifestyle.
1) Stop using your credit cards. This is the number one tip because it’s key. If you don’t go in deeper, you can climb out faster. The best way to control your spending is to create a written budget. What works for most people is to start by putting 20% of your post-income tax directly into savings. Next, dedicate 50% of your after-tax income to necessities such as housing, groceries, and medicine. Finally, budget 40% of your after-tax income for optional expenses such as subscribing to streaming services.
2) Ask for a lower interest rate. Call the customer service hotline on your billing statement and ask if you qualify for a lower interest rate. One factor that may sway your creditors to lower your rate is offering to make a substantial payment on your outstanding balance. You can also call other creditors and find out what they’re offering. Tell your company what you learn. Credit card providers want to stay competitive.
3) Tackle the debt with the highest interest rate first. It’s tempting to pay off the loan with the lowest balance first, but consider this. If you owe $10,000 on a Visa with a 24% interest rate, your minimum monthly payment is $300. Pay just the minimum and you’ll end up paying $19,333 in interest. Increase your monthly payment to $500 a month and you’ll pay only $6,554 in interest.
4) Shop for the best insurance rates. This takes time, so it’s understandable why few people bother to call multiple agencies for quotes every year. However, NerdWallet estimates that those of us who do shop around for car insurance can save up to $859 a year.
5) Ask for a raise. This is so intimidating that only about 30% of us ever ask for a raise. But the reward for taking the risk is substantial. A PayScale.com study shows asking for a raise pays off about 80% of the time.
If these steps seem daunting, don’t despair. Before you decide you are doomed to carry debt forever, consider talking to an expert about your specific situation. Experts can help you find money in your budget and guide you to the best savings plans to help you build wealth.
Cleve DeSouza is a leading mortgage professional in affiliation with Matrix Mortgage Global (Lic#11108) and a seasoned real estate investor with over 10 years of experience.
He has assessed over 200 deals totalling in excess of 25 million dollars. He has a proven track record of ingeniously structuring single-family, multifamily, student homes and commercial assets. Owing to his engineering and dynamic project management background, he has consistently applied critical thinking and creativity to bring each deal to success in a timely and efficient manner. Find him at www.clevedoesmore.com.