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How to Get Out of Debt

December 11, 2018 8:19 pm

Jar of coins tips over with coins spilling out

Debt is often a necessary part of being successful. It’s difficult to go through college without taking out student loans, and it’s nearly impossible to buy a house without a mortgage. In addition, many Americans carry a balance on their credit card every month and pay high interest rates for the privilege. Debt can feel like a heavy load to carry, so here are a few ways to get out of debt faster and avoid increasing your debt during the holiday season.

Pay Less Interest

You should consider consolidating your debt into a lower interest rate loan. This will allow you to make a single monthly payment for all of your debt, and a lower interest rate will save you money in the long run. Talk to your financial institution about loan consolidation options.

If your problem is credit card debt, look into transferring the balance to a card with 0% APR for several years—ideally long enough to pay off the entire balance.

Spend Less

It almost goes without saying: if you spend less money, you’ll have more “spare” cash to help pay off your debts. Start by creating a budget. A budget will help you limit spending and give you concrete rules to follow for managing your money.

And if you do run into any extra money—for example, a holiday bonus or a yearly raise—don’t spend it. Instead, put that cash directly into an extra payment on your loan or credit card.

Avoid Debt During the Holidays

During the holiday season, it’s easy to let spending go overboard—especially when your credit card makes you feel like you can spend now and worry about it in January. Americans spend an average of almost $600 on Christmas gifts alone, and that’s not counting decorations, parties, and extra travel.

You don’t have to avoid giving gifts during the holiday season, but look for a few ways to save while shopping around. Does everyone on your list need top-of-the-line technology? Or could you look for last year’s models or even refurbished versions? When looking for gifts for your kids, would they be okay with gently used toys from yard sales or eBay? If you’re buying gifts for coworkers, maybe reconsider—even if they are an important part of your life, they will definitely understand if you don’t buy a gift for each and every person you work with.

For friends and family, don’t forget about homemade gifts—and you don’t have to be an amazing craftsman to make them. Everyone loves hot chocolate, and if it’s a mix made with love in a cute (and affordable!) mason jar, that’s even better.

We hope this guide will help you along the path to becoming debt free, and that you have a very happy holiday season.

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