For many people, debt feels like quicksand; The more you struggle to dig yourself out, the deeper you get. It’s dispiriting to try your hardest to live frugally and make your payments month after month, only to feel like the numbers aren’t moving. The good news is that there are things you can do to get out of debt faster, and it’s not just about making bigger payments. Here are four ways to speed up the process of becoming debt-free.
Negotiate a Better Rate
If you have credit card debt, odds are that a good chunk of your monthly payment is going toward interest. Did you know that getting a lower interest rate can be as simple as a phone call? If you’ve had the same card for several years and have a history of on-time payments, you’re the kind of customer lenders don’t want to lose. You have even more negotiating power if you’re willing to close the card if the company won’t work with you to get a lower rate. Be polite and don’t be afraid to use offers from other banks as leverage.
Pay Down Principal
So now you’re saving money on interest. Maybe you’ve got some extra cash thanks to a birthday gift or a bonus at work. When you find yourself with even a little more money than you expected to have, use it to pay down your principal. This doesn’t just work with credit cards, it’s a great strategy for loans too, as long as your loan allows extra principal payments. Make a note of which loans allow this type of payment, so you’re ready when the opportunity presents itself.
Choose Your Debt Wisely
Now you know you aren’t necessarily stuck with the interest rate printed on your credit card bill. Here’s more good news — the same rule applies to loans. You may have heard of refinancing a mortgage, but how about a student loan refi? By consolidating and/or refinancing your loan debt, you can save money and simplify your life by cutting down on the number of payments you have to keep track of.
Take Advantage of Good Offers
When you’re focused on getting out of debt, the last thing you want to think about is another credit card. However, the balance transfer offers that often come with new cards can be a smart part of your debt reduction strategy. Say you’re carrying a balance on a credit card with an interest rate that’s higher than your loans. By transferring that balance to a new card that offers low or no interest for a year or more, you can concentrate on paying down other debts first, without worrying about racking up interest on the card.
Organization goes a long way as well. Keep track of payment due dates, so you don’t waste money on late fees. Keep an eye on your bank account balance to avoid bounced checks and overdrafts. By staying on top of your money and making smart choices, you’ll be well on your way to finally being debt-free.