It’s been said that paying off debt is like eating an elephant – it can only be done one bite at a time.
But getting started can seem daunting and overwhelming. Knowing how to take the first bite can prevent many from starting altogether.
Of all the people I know who have gotten out of debt, not one of them has regretted it. Living debt-free gives us so much freedom, because God never intended for borrowing to be used as a routine part of our financial planning. Proverbs 22:7 tells us, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
So let me help you take the first bites of that elephant and pay off your debt. Once you get going, you can see the progress you’ve made and continue to make more.
Bite #1: Save $1,000
This may seem counterintuitive because it seems more logical to put all the money you have towards your debt to get rid of it faster.
Think about the reason you got into debt in the first place – you didn’t have enough cash to fund that summer vacation…you weren’t expecting that expensive ride in the ambulance…you went to college.
So before you take the offense to pay off your debts, build up your defense with a savings account. If you have at least $1,000 put aside to be used for emergencies only, then you’ll be a lot less likely to go into debt (or add to your existing debt) in the first place. Here are 13 ways to save for your emergency fund and 8 budget hacks to help you save even more.
Bite #2: Get Organized & Make a Plan
When it comes to debt, the saying is true: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
The Debt Snowball Method is the best way to pay off debt quickly and save on interest.
Here’s how it works:
You start by paying off your smallest debt as quickly as possible. This frees up extra money to put towards the next debt and gives you a boost in motivation.
Then, you put all the money you were paying on that smallest debt and put it towards the next smallest. So on and so on until you, my friend, are DEBT-FREE.
Here’s how you start:
- First, organize your debts from smallest to largest amount owed (ignore the interest rates for now). Also, it may be wise for you to cut up your credit cards now to prevent you from adding to your debt as you pay it off. Cash is your new best friend.
- Second, decide how much extra money (above your monthly payments) each month you can put towards paying off debt. This step is essential because paying extra is the only way you’ll make real progress and save on interest costs. Therefore, you may need to cut out some expenses (like cable or Netflix, extras at the grocery store, or gas by carpooling to work).
- Third, put all this info into the Debt Snowball Calculator. It does the hard work (math) for you! It will generate a payment plan for you to follow and show you exactly how long it’ll take you to pay off all your debts. Try printing your plan and keeping it in a visible place to keep you motivated. Set calendar reminders for each day you’ll finish making payments on a debt. Living with freedom is something to celebrate!
Keep in mind that every worthwhile goal you attempt will likely be met with resistance and obstacles. Pray and ask God to give you patience, endurance, and a faith that will not stop until you are debt free. Proverbs 21:5 says, “Steady plodding brings prosperity.”
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the burden of credit card debt, get in touch with Christian Credit Counselors. They’ve been our trusted partners for years and can help you consolidate your accounts, lower your interest rates, and negotiate on your behalf.
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