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How to Pay Off Debt Quickly

Pay off DebtNobody likes being in debt, HUGE understatement I know. :-) If given the choice, we would all prefer to be able to pay for our purchases and never have to deal with the issue of owing other people money. Unfortunately that’s not always the case given the number of people who have had to pay off debt in their lifetimes, myself included.

There may be times, like when buying a house or purchasing a car, that taking on debt is unavoidable. However, once you have taken on debt, there should be one thing on your mind – paying it off as quickly as possible. Paying off debt isn’t usually easy, and can possibly take several years to accomplish, but can be accelerated by a certain attitude.

Pay off Debt by Making a Commitment

You aren’t going to pay off debt quickly unless you make it a goal and stay committed to that goal until the debt is gone. If you would rather take your extra money and spend it on dinners out and weekends away, you are not going to be able to kill your debt very fast at all. There is generally going to be a good bit of sacrifice involved in paying off debt, but it’s well worth it in the long run.

To start with, decide on what your goal is each month to pay toward the debt. Ideally, this amount will be significantly higher than the minimum payment so you can make headway toward paying off the debt early. In the case of a credit card that is charging you interest, the extra payment over the minimum is crucial because it chips away at the amount of interest that you will be charged each month. Not only will that extra payment help you pay off debt quicker, but it will also help you save money in the long run.

Sticking with It

Once you get into a habit of paying a specific amount toward your debt each month, don’t fall off track and lose focus on your goal. It is easy to just get comfortable with having that debt over your head and you might be tempted to stop paying extra each month. Resist those thoughts and keep your eyes focused on getting rid of the debt quickly so you can move on without having to worry about those payments.

This attitude you will develop while paying off debt is also not one that you will want to give up on once the debt is gone. Once your debt is paid off you’ll still want to keep that same attitude that got you out of it so you can hit the ground running and continue to grow your wealth.

Motivation

If you are needing motivation to keep dedicating extra funds to paying off debt, just remember that getting rid of the debt is likely to help improve your credit score, help you get better terms on a future mortgage, and simply improve your overall financial life. When you put it in those terms, it doesn’t seem so bad to sacrifice unnecessary crap in order to save money for the monthly payment you are trying to make.

There is no way around it – your debt is not going to get paid off quickly unless you make it a priority to do so. By putting the debt at the top of your list and pushing the extra money you have available that direction, you can start to eliminate it faster than you might think. It might not be a lot of fun in the short-term, but you will feel quite accomplished and satisfied at the end of the process once the debt has been completed repaid.

 

What things have you done to pay off debt quickly? How do you keep yourself motivated if you’re paying off debt?

 

Photo courtesy of: Lending Memo

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John Schmoll is a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. He's passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes so that they can live lives free from the shackles of debt and empowered to make their money work for them. You can check out his other sites: Frugal Rules, for ways to improve your financial literacy; and Sprout Wealth for tips on different ways to make more money. John has been featured on Forbes, Lifehacker, Yahoo Finance and US News & World Report.

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27 comments

  1. I keep myself motivated by playing silly debt games. Like, I wonder if I can get this balance down to $X by Y date. I log a bunch of silly goals that at quick glance may or may not be achievable (I don’t cheat and do calculations beforehand) but should be probable. Then I refer back to them to see if I was able to meet them or not. Like I said, they are silly, but they make a debt repayment a little bit fun when it really does suck most of the time, even if it is totally worth it in the long run. ;-)
    debt debs recently posted…Worth It Wednesday – Can a Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis?My Profile

  2. Motivation is such an important part of paying off debt fast! I pay off debt quickly by staying focued on my goal of paying off my house and finally being debt free one day. It helps to dream a little and imagine the good life ;-)
    MonicaOnMoney recently posted…You Don’t Have To Be A Superhero To Become Debt FreeMy Profile

  3. Staying motivated when paying down debt is the toughest part. However, once the balances start going down, motivation becomes much easier to come by. I think the number one tip I can give to someone paying down debt is to follow an accelerated payment plan like debt stacking and constant payment…aka…the debt snowball!
    Joshua Rodriguez recently posted…Why Most Bloggers Fail…And Why You Wont!My Profile

  4. I think the best way to stay motivated is to break up your debt repayment goals into smaller amounts and then when you hit those hurdles you should have a mini celebration (i.e. for every $1,000 you pay down you give yourself something you have been denying like a mani/pedi or bottle of wine or something). It is easier to stay motivated when you break down your goals rather than think of one massive one.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Top Ten Reasons to Cut CableMy Profile

  5. Staying motivated is hard but once you clear that first hurdle then feeling you get from it should give you a little boost in confidence. I used the Snowball Method, which some people don’t agree with, but it helped me get rid of debt in less than a year. And the good thing about it is that I felt a sense of accomplishment every time I paid a debt, which made me believe that it was possible to get rid of debt. I never really had that feeling before.

    Now my motivation is to build my nest egg and see if I can retire early.
    Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja recently posted…Introducing “The Friday Five”My Profile

  6. We put our debt snowball up on the wall in the office where we both see it everyday. This has really helped to keep us motivated.
    Kristin @ Payment Free Life recently posted…All About Life InsuranceMy Profile

  7. One thing I did that was hard but really helped was whenever I got a windfall, like a bonus, I spent 10%, donated 10% (personal preference) and put the rest against debt. Had a little fun and felt good about the unexpected drop in balances putting me ahead of my plan.

  8. IHaving some kind of goal is important. I would like to buy a house and start a family within the next couple of years. Ideally I want to stay at home with my children, I don’t want to be working full time. But if I have £11k of credit card debt this won’t be possible as I’ll need to find £300 a month for minimum repayments. The debt HAS to go!

  9. Staying motivated is key. Waiting on other more fun purchases is not easy. Even forgoing necessary expenses for another year, is hard.

    I have put off many items when accumulating assets to purchase rental property. It is all starting to be a bit more fun, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
    No Nonsense Landlord recently posted…Renting to Family Members and FriendsMy Profile

    • I agree NNL, it can be difficult to stay motivated when there are other things you want or could arguably need. I always like breaking things up so I can at least throw a little at those areas while still focusing the major part at debt or whatever else it is that I find more important.
      John Schmoll recently posted…How to Pay Off Debt QuicklyMy Profile

  10. I think sticking with it is the hardest part especially with lifes ups and downs!

  11. I agree that one of the hardest things about debt repayment is sticking with it. But, I loved seeing the balances go down. Now that we’re debt-free, I have the opposite hobby: watching the balances go up!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Why We’ll Never Be the JonesesMy Profile

  12. IT takes extreme dedication to pay off debt. Most live paycheck to paycheck and add in debt repayments in the mix and you have a critically low consisitent cash flow. Do it like a band aide and pay off as much as you can as quickly as possible.
    EL @ Moneywatch101 recently posted…Pension Concerns are AlarmingMy Profile

  13. A couple of years ago I bought a car, which I financed at a really low rate. I hate the thought of being in debt so I focused on paying the car off. I was able to do so in a short period of time, because I threw all of my extra money at it and picked up some side work. Great tips!
    Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter recently posted…Benefit from My Financial MistakesMy Profile

  14. I tried to pay off my debt ASAP by putting all of my discretionary money towards my debt. That lasted a few months. Turns out I hated life because I couldn’t do anything because all of my money was going towards debt. So, I scaled it back a little bit so that I could go out a few times a month with my friends. I found a healthy balance that allowed me to pay extra on my debt and still have fun without feeling guilty.
    Jon @ Money Smart Guides recently posted…When Saving Money Goes WrongMy Profile

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