You have payments coming out your ears and you want them to stop.
You are ready to roll your sleeves up and dig out from under your debt. You are tired of having debt steal your money with your own permission and you want to live a life free from payments.
But, what is the best way to dig out from under your debt?
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Everyone seems to have an opinion about how to about paying off debt. Pay the debt with the highest interest payment. Pay the smallest balance. Save your student loans for last, since they are good debts. Just keep paying minimum on everything, you will pay them off eventually.
I know you are probably overwhelmed with the amount of debt you have and just want someone to tell you the best and simplest way way you can clean up your finances.
The best way, I have found, to dig out from under debt is to use the snowball method. The debt snowball method is detailed out in The Total Money Makeover and made popular by Dave Ramsey.
What exactly is the snowball method?
The debt snowball method is where you list all your debts smallest to largest, regardless of the interest rates.
You pay the minimum payments on everything except the first debt. Every extra dollar you can bring in through extra hustle or trimming your budget gets added to the smallest debt until this is paid off. Wahoo!
Once you have paid off the smallest debt, now you take all the money you have been paying on the first debt and add it to the minimum payment of the next debt.
The amount of payments you are able to put towards each debt grows and grows, just like a snowball rolling down the hill getting larger on the way down.
When you pay off the second debt, you will take all the money you had been applying towards the second debt and dump it on the third debt. You continue paying the rest of your debts in the same fashion until you have paid everything off and do a happy dance!
Debt Snowball Method
List your debts smallest to largest.
Pay minimums on everything except the smallest debt.
Throw every extra dollar you can towards the smallest debt until paid off.
Now, apply the payment from the smallest debt on to the next debt.
Repeat the process until everything is paid off.
Beyond the math
Digging your way out from under your debts by using the debt snow ball method is a simple approach. However, with the simplicity comes increasing motivation to pay off your debts and a lot of small wins along the way, proving that you can indeed pay off your debts.
Yes, as I shared here, I did not use the snowball method in its entirety to dig my way out from under my debts. But I wish I had.
See, your behavior starts to change when you are focused with strong intensity on the smallest debt and you start looking for ways to come up with extra money to throw at it.
You also see quick progress being made as you pay off the small debts. You continue to see progress, have wins along the way, and become more passionate about paying down the debts. which is important so you don’t give up and fizzle out before becoming debt free.
If I had used the snowball method, I would have been able to pay off my debts much more quickly with a growing desire to make more progress each month on cleaning up all the debts. I may have been able to get my husband on board to help pay the debts off.
You might pay more in interest as you dig out from under you debts using the snowball method, but I want to see you bust through your debt as if your life depends on it and get out of debt as soon as possible.
If paying off debt was just about all the numbers… we would never borrow money.
Mathematically, borrowing money with a high interest rate does not even make sense at all. If you were really thinking about it, would anyone in their right mind pay several times more than the item costs? However, that is exactly what you are doing when you borrow money and pay it back with interest.
If paying off debt was just about the numbers, we would never borrow money.
The more fired up you become about paying everything off, the more your psyche connects to the heavy weight of debt and the intense desire to become free.
Additionally, after working so hard to dig out from under your debts, you will start to look at purchases differently and will not be so willing to casually take on more debt.
Paying off debt is more about changing your behavior, acknowledging you were the one who signed to be able to borrow money and made the choice to take on debt. You are the one responsible for your financial situation and you are the one responsible to clean up this mess.
Once you have reached debt freedom, you look back and realize you have changed into a different person. That, my friend, is the reason why a debt snowball is so successful and why I recommend it to everyone.
Paying off debt is about taking responsibility and changing your behavior.
Motivational tips while you work the debt snowball
Keep thinking of your reason why you want to get out of debt. Place pictures of your why on your phone, in your wallet, and on the fridge so you can see it every single day. Imagine what your life would look like without debt, where you could go, and what you can do.
Remember debt is a thief stealing your income (often with your permission). Get mad and use your anger to remove debt from your life fast! You work way to hard and make too much money to be in debt.
Make your debt progress visible and color in how much debt you are able to pay off. Keep your progress front and center in your life. You will see proof that you are working a plan and you have made progress, which is especially important when you are tired of working so much and feeling discouraged.
Now is the time to clean up your debt so it is not continuously hanging over your life bringing a dark shadow over what you want to do or can do with your money.
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