When I was first learning to drive an automatic car, I thought it was the most confusing thing on earth. Not only did I have to pay attention to traffic, use my blinker, and do the many things you have to do to drive a car, but I also had to worry about switching gears and timing the use of the clutch just right. I had to carefully let off the clutch, especially driving when I had to stop and start going uphill. I was worried I was going to look like the biggest idiot ever by stalling my car. And importantly, I remember feeling like there was no way that I could possibly learn to drive a stick shift.
But, everyone told me that eventually all of the things that you do to drive a stick shift would just feel like second nature and I wouldn’t have to really think about it. And you know what? They were right. I eventually did learn to drive a stick shift. And it really does feel like second nature now– I don’t think about it much while I’m driving anymore.
That is exactly what starting to pay off debt is like. At first, it seems really confusing and overwhelming. But after trying some things out, you will find that it is not so confusing or overwhelming after all. Dealing with your finances will start to feel like second nature. Once you have a few things under control, managing your finances will be a breeze, just like driving that stick shift became a breeze.
HOW TO GET STARTED PAYING OFF DEBT: ASSESS, ASSESS, AND ASSESS!
(1) ASSESS HOW MUCH DEBT YOU HAVE
The first thing you should do to get started paying off debt is to assess exactly how much debt you have. You may have student loans, a mortgage, a car payment, credit card debt, a personal loan, or maybe even all of the above. List every single debt you owe. Once you’ve done that, prioritize your debt from most expensive to least expensive. Meaning, the highest earning interest loans should go first, down to your lowest earning interest loans. This is commonly referred to as the debt avalanche method and you can read more about it here.
(2) ASSESS YOUR OTHER EXPENSES
Once you know exactly how much debt you have, you should list your other expenses too. Write down every expense you have and make it an exhaustive list to include everything from your mortgage, health insurance, and how much you spend on recreational activities. This should be an exhaustive list.
(3) ASSESS YOUR INCOME
Once you know how much debt you have to repay and what your routine expenses are, it is time to assess your income from every source. How much money do you earn at your regular job? Do you have any side hustles? Do you have a second job? A third job? Do you have a spouse, and does he or she work? Tally up income you receive from all sources.
(4) ADJUST YOUR INCOME AND EXPENSES TO MAKE DEBT PAYOFF A PRIORITY
Once you know how much debt you have, how much your expenses are per month, and how much income you have coming in, compare all of these numbers. Do you have enough income coming in each month so that you can meet all of your expenses, while making extra payments towards your debts? If not, you will need to either increase your income, or cut some expenses, or most likely, both. Do so, until you have enough money each month to not only make ends meet, but to direct extra money towards paying off debt. I know that taking on other jobs and otherwise increasing your income might take a lot of extra work and sacrifice of free time on your part, but remember, it is only temporary until you get out of debt. Remember, the interest on your debt is working hard against you, so you must work hard against it.
I created the Debt Payoff Starter Kit to help you get started paying off debt. It is completely free, and I’ll walk you through exactly how to get started paying off debt. You will learn how to set (and crush) financial goals, create a budget, and eliminate your debt. I break things up over the course of 4 days to help ease that overwhelming feeling that you might have about your debt. SIGN UP FOR THE FREE DEBT PAYOFF STARTER KIT HERE.
You can learn how to get started paying off debt. I promise, once you start taking those first few steps, it will become second nature to you. You’ll be able to manage it, and you’ll go on to crush other financial goals! Use the Debt Payoff Starter Kit to help you get started. You got this!
What has helped you get started paying off debt? Have you already paid off debt? What helped you in the beginning?