How do you pay off debt on a low income?
I had a pile of debt worth 21% of my annual income that first year my husband and I were married and it felt like a ton of gravel crushing me.
Yes, $7,666 in debt isn’t much compared to a lot of people, but when I only made $37,000 (gross) that year in income as the sole provider for my family, it was still very oppressive!!
I felt so overwhelmed with no idea how on earth we would be able to pay it off with my variable income, since I was having to st-r-e-e-e-e-e-t-c-h every dollar as far as it would go – money was so tight in those days.
I had the smallest inkling of a dream burning in my heart to be completely debt free by the time my husband graduated school, I just didn’t know how to get there.
If debt is crushing you and you are on a very tight income, please don’t give up. You CAN pay off all your debt and I will show you 7 tips that will make it totally doable.
Back to my story, yes, I was actually able to finish paying off all of our debt within 22 months and have continued to live debt free since. It absolutely can be done in your life too!
Have you read the other posts in the series, 'Budgeting When Money is Tight'?
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Do you want to know how to pay off debt fast, even on a low income? Let’s get started by looking at the best secrets to help you pay off debt fast so you can get on with your life.
This first tip is paramount to your success – so much that I talk about it all.the.time. Getting on a budget will help you so much as you learn to be successful with money.
1. Get on a budget
Following a budget is so important when money is really tight and you are trying to pay off debt. You can see where your money is going each month, including how much money is going to debt payments.
My favorite budget, especially when money is tight, to use is what I call a Bare Bones Budget.
You list your expenses in order of priority, with the basic essentials of food, lights/water, housing, and transportation at the top, and start paying down the list.
One extra benefit of following a budget – I love doing this- if you don’t spend as much in one category as planned, you can easily take that leftover money and apply it to your debt, getting rid of your debt even faster. It’s incredible how much all those seemingly insignificant amounts can add up over time.
I did this while I was paying for the last year of my husband’s school and was able to save over $19,000 in one year!! Imagine how much EXTRA you can put towards your debt if you did this!
If you are just new to budgeting and want to know how to set up a Bare Bones Budget, check out these posts.