5 Tips to Reduce Debt

One of the first steps to managing your finances well is to know where you stand with debt. People use and go into debt for many reasons depending on our financial situation, life needs, and personal preferences. Debt can be classified into four main categories: secured, unsecured, revolving, or mortgaged. Below are 5 tips for reducing debt and paying debt off faster.

Create a Spending Plan Now

If you are using a spending plan already, great! If you are not using a spending plan, start using one today. To manage your finances well, you must know where your money is going, and a spending plan helps you to do that. Recording your transactions is a great habit and understanding your cash inflows and outflows is a great way to uncover new ways to save.

With some planning and managing, you can reduce the stress of borrowing and improve your financial health while reducing debt. Creating and using a spending plan will also help you live within your means and not have to use credit on everyday items like gas and groceries.  

Pay More Than the Minimum

Paying as little as $10 more than the minimum on your debt payment will help pay your debt faster and save you money in interest. For example, if you have a credit card with a $1,000 balance and an 18% interest rate and pay only the minimum monthly payment, it will take almost three years to pay off the balance. The total price would be about $1,304, meaning you are paying out $304 in interest alone.

On the other hand, using the same balance, interest rate, and minimum amount due, let’s say you pay more than the minimum due each month. If you were to pay an additional $60 each month, or a total of $100, it would take just 1 year to pay off the balance, and the interest paid would be reduced to $103, a significant saving.

It makes a big difference to pay more than just the minimum due, in both the time it takes to pay off debt and how much you end up paying. Of course, the optimum plan would be to pay the balance in full each month and avoid paying interest altogether, but the most important thing is to make sure your payments fit your spending plan. 

Make Biweekly Payments

Instead of paying your mortgage once a month, slice your payment down the middle and send half every two weeks. Why? There are 52 weeks a year, so this works out to 26 biweekly payments, meaning you would pay 13 total payments.

Biweekly mortgage payments don’t save you money by lowering your interest rate; they save you on interest by paying your mortgage earlier. When you pay your principal balance down faster, there’s less interest and less debt.

Choose One Debt and Pay it Off

Two approaches to this strategy are snowball or avalanche methods of debt reduction. In the avalanche method, you pick the debt with the highest Annual Percentage Rate (APR), attack it until it’s paid off, then move to the next highest APR. This will reduce the largest chunk of money you’re spending on interest.

With the debt snowball method, you focus efforts on the smallest balance. When your first debt has a zero balance, you take the amount you were paying towards that debt and use it to pay down the next debt on your list, paying off that debt quicker, and so on. Once you move all your debts to a zero balance, you can begin applying all your debt repayment spending plan items toward your savings to help you reach your long-term goals.

Use Savings to Pay Debt

If you owe more in interest on your debt than what you are earning in interest on your savings, you may want to use some savings to reduce your debt.

Paying down high-interest debt with savings may be a better use of your money. While it’s essential to build up your savings for many reasons, such as having money to pay for emergency expenses, there are times when that money may be more helpful in paying off debt. Paying off high-interest debt is one.

Reducing debt is always a good idea, and the 5 tips for reducing debt above can help pay off debt. Using a spending plan, paying more than the minimum, and paying off debts early, will save you interest. And with your debt paid off, you can put more of your money into saving and financial goals. Comment below; I would love to hear from you.