10 Tips to Get Debt-Free

  1. Cut up your credit cards. Believe it or not but a lot of people that are deep in debt still have open credit cards. Now it’s okay to have a low-interest card for emergency situations. If you’re on the path to debt freedom, close and cut up any credit cards you may have and live on cash. Stop getting further into debt.
  2. Get your credit report. After you’ve closed your open accounts and cut up your credit cards, find out your credit score and see what’s on your credit report. You can’t get out of debt until you know what you have to pay. You actually may not be in as much debt as you think. Credit card debt for the average American household is between $14,000 – $17,000. You can order free annual reports from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
  3. Fix errors on your credit report. If you find mistakes on your report, contact the credit bureau immediately. Instead of using an online form, send a letter that includes your name, address, decryption of each item that you’re disputing and an expiation of why you dispute it.
  4. Budget. Creating a budget is not only vital for debt freedom, but it is also vital for financial freedom in general. By creating a budget, you are able to see where your money is going an how much you have to go towards paying of your debt. Keep it simple. Write down your income and expenses. Subtract expenses from income and that’s the amount that you have left. Save a portion of it and put the other portion to debt payments.
  5. Pay off the smallest debt first. Find out what the smallest balance is on your credit report. Attack it first and make minimum payments on everything else. Then move on to the next one smallest balance. If you’re not able to make minimum payments on everything else, just take it one at a time, but pay it off as quickly as possible.  This method will create some momentum and encourage you to continue paying off your debt.
  6. Make payments on time. Making on-time payments can not only encourage you, but also can keep your score at a good level. Late payments can kill a credit score. If you make one late payment, up to 100 points can get erased from your score. On the upside, there is usually a grace period for late payments. Depending on the company, it’s usually 30 or 60 days. But, if no payment has been made within that grace period, the credit company will report it to the credit bureaus; and that will go on your report. But, here’s another good upside: after you’ve made several good payments, you can write/contact the credit company and ask them to remove the late payment off of your report. Consistent on-time payments looks very good to creditors and can have a great impact on your score and report.
  7. Remain focused. If you really want to get out of debt, you have to make up your mind and remain focused. You will not get out of debt overnight, unless you win the lottery. Chances are you didn’t get into debt in 2 or 3 years and chances are you won’t get out of debt in 2 or 3 years; it may take longer. But, that also depends on your ability to remain focused and determined. Create a plan of action and stick to it. Hang in there; you can do it.
  8. Find your purpose. Why do you want to get out of debt? To help your children? Go on a vacation? Start a business? Have peace of mind? Finding your purpose and keeping it at the fore-front of your mind will help you remain focused.
  9. Consolidate your debt. Debt consolidation can be a risky business. It usually involves a secured loan against an asset that serves as collateral, like a house or car. By using collateral, the interest rates are lower. They are lower because by collateralizing, the owner agrees to allow forced sale (foreclosure) of the asset to pay off the loan. Since the interest rates are lower, the loan is usually paid off sooner. Proceed with caution!
  10. File bankruptcy. If all else fails and you just can not repay your debt, consider bankruptcy as a last resort. There are some major drawbacks, however. This will remain on your credit report for 10 years, making it almost impossible to obtain credit. Another drawback is the fact that filing bankruptcy costs money (the very thing that you’re in need of). There are several types of bankruptcy, but it basically means that you are incapable of repaying your debts and they will be discharged from your report.