How to Get Out of Debt: 13 Expert-Backed Steps for Success

Dealing with debt can feel like a hopeless situation. You try your best to make your payments, but interest charges eat up all your progress. Next month, you’re back to square one.

1. Find Your Motivation

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of debt payoff, start by figuring out the big reason why you want to be debt-free. This is crucial for keeping yourself motivated when things feel difficult, according to Fo Alexander, founder of Mama & Money and author of “Dump Debt & Build Bank.”

2. See Where you Stand

“You need to know what goes in and out of your household and whether those expenses can be covered with your income,” said Leslie H. Tayne, a debt solution attorney and managing director of Tayne Law Group, P.C.

3. Identify Poor Spending Habits

Once you have a basic budget in place, take a look at your discretionary spending (AKA your “wants”) and look for opportunities to cut unnecessary spending.

4. Increase Your Income

You can only scrimp and save so much. In addition to cutting your spending, another way to pay your debt more aggressively is to earn more income.

5. Narrow Your Focus

Instead, focus on accomplishing one goal at a time. You’ll make progress quicker, and progress leads to persistence. For instance, work on getting rid of your high-interest credit card debt before moving on to your federal student loans.

Becoming debt-free is a big goal that will likely take a long time to accomplish. If you only focus on that one big goal, it can feel like you aren’t making progress, and you might get discouraged.

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