Saving up for retirement can be a daunting task, especially if you already have the burden of debt. Student loans, credit cards, or private loan debt can make it incredibly difficult to even think about planning for retirement.
With so much debt weighing us down, paying it all off can seem like an impossible task. However, with the right steps, proper planning, and a little discipline, it is possible to pay down your debt and save for your retirement. If you want to take control of your financial deficit, here are seven tips to help you start saving and conquer debt.
1. Find Out Where You Stand
The first step toward financial independence is knowing exactly where you stand. Get to know all your finances including debt, spending, and income.
How much are you spending, and are you balancing it with what you make? How much do you owe, and on what? What kind of debt do you have: good or bad? Some debt can be beneficial and help build your credit score. Gather your bills, pay stubs, and debt information and get an idea of the numbers. Find out where your money is going.
2. Organize Your Finances
Now that you have an idea of where your cash flow is going, it’s time to take control of it. You can organize your finances with a simple app like Mint.
This will not only help you see where your money is going, but it can help you invest once you’ve paid down your debts. Having an app can help you see where your money is going – like to your morning coffee, your weekends out, or maybe membership fees you’ve forgotten about. With precise organization, you can see where you can cut corners and where you relocate funds to pay down debts.
3. Pick Up Some Extra Work on the Side
If you want to pay down your debt faster and build your work portfolio at the same time, consider doing some side work. This sounds exhausting, but you can make money by using your skills like writing or designing and make some extra cash. Pick up some clients on the side and use that extra money to get rid of any extra debt you have. There are plenty of simple secondary jobs you can do just to bring in funds to pay your debts.
If a second job isn’t possible, you can also bring in money by selling things you no longer use. Maybe that extra TV, that old couch, or that video game system you haven’t touched in years can be put to use. There are plenty of ways to help pay down your debts.
4. If You Can Afford, Make Extra Payments
When it comes to, interest is the killer. While credit card and student loan companies will give you a minimum payment to slowly pay down your debt, it may take way longer than you’d expect to pay it back.
You can get ahead of your payments. Paying a bit extra or throwing in an extra payment now and again can pay off your loan faster. If you do this consistently, even just adding a few dollars to your payments, you can conquer your debt.
5. Form a Pay-Off Plan
With your debts gathered and organized, a great next step is giving yourself a goal. How do you want to tackle this debt and how quickly do you want to pay it off?
You can pay off smaller debts and put that money toward larger debt, or you can focus on the highest interest debt. The key is finding a plan that works for you and your financial situation. Paying off smaller debt may make more sense for your situation, or perhaps paying down your debt with the highest interest will help you save you money in the long run. Regardless, the first step is putting a plan in place.
6. Try to Lower Interest Rates
If high interest is your problem, there are ways to work that number down to something more manageable. High interest means you pay more over time.
You could spend years paying on interest alone. Try to avoid that by finding different ways to lower your interest rate.
You can call credit card companies and try to negotiate rates. Additionally, you can do a balance transfer to a card with zero APR, or a lower interest rate. If student loans are your issue, consider loan consolidation. If you’d rather handle all of your loans in one place, seek out a loan with a low-interest rate.
7. Set Pay-Off Goals
The best motivation for paying off debt is setting goals. Crunch the numbers and set a pay-off goal.
While it’s ambitious to set one big goal, having multiple goals is more attainable and realistic. Set small goals to start and give yourself a reward as you achieve them.
Why are you aiming to pay down your debt fast? Whether you plan on buying a house, a car, or taking a vacation, have something to reach for. Whatever your reward, setting that goal will be all the sweeter when there’s a prize at the finish line.
Paying Off Debt for Good
You don’t have to bear the burden of debt forever. Take control of your finances and set your pay-off goals today. Monitor your spending, set achievable goals, and motivate yourself to gain financial freedom. Before making any financial decisions, consider speaking with a financial advisor. A debt-free future awaits!