If your debt is weighing you down, it’s time to break free of it. While you can’t just make it disappear, you can use strategies like debt consolidation and a targeted repayment approach to ease the load, helping you pay it off faster. Here’s what you should know about debt payoff strategies to help you breathe easy and feel more confident about your financial future.
Are you looking for a shortcut to pay off your debt sooner? The best way to build momentum in your debt repayment efforts is to follow a debt payoff strategy or submit larger monthly payments. Keep reading to learn tips on both of these so that you can pay off your debt as fast as possible.
Remember, the sooner you amp up your debt repayment process, the quicker you will experience financial freedom.
Pick a Debt Payoff Strategy
Knowing how to pay off debt fast doesn’t have to remain a mystery. There are four primary methods for paying off credit card and other debts quickly: the debt snowball method, the debt avalanche method, a debt consolidation loan, and a balance transfer credit card. All methods have their own benefits, and the one that’s right for you will depend on your situation.
1. Debt Snowball Method
This way to pay off debt focuses on paying off the account with the lowest balance first. You’ll continue to make minimum payments on your other accounts, but you’ll put as much as possible toward the account with the lowest balance until it’s paid off. When that one reaches $0, do the same for the next account with the lowest balance.
For instance, say you have credit cards with balances of $400, $1,000, and $1,400. Plan to make the minimum payments for the $1,000 and $1,400 cards, but pay as much as you can on the $400 balance each month. When that balance gets to $0, start paying down the $1,000 balance while continuing to make minimum payments on the $1,400 balance.
With the snowball approach, you’ll pay off debt fast, one account at a time. It’s not quite instant gratification, but it’s close enough to keep you motivated and provide a sense of accomplishment. Plus, you’ll steadily reduce the number of outstanding balances you have, which can ease your stress.
The snowball method may be the best way to pay off debts with similar or low interest rates, but it doesn’t account for debts with high interest rates. If your highest account balances have the highest interest rates, you may want to choose a different method of paying off your debt to avoid paying more in interest.
2. Debt Avalanche Method
This method focuses on accounts with the highest interest rates, minimizing the amount you pay over time. To use the debt avalanche method, look at the statements for each credit card and loan you have open, and note the Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”). The card or loan with the highest APR is the one you should start paying down first, then move on to the next.
In this case, imagine you have three lines of credit with APRs of 15.99%, 18%, and 21.99%. With this method, you would focus on paying down the account with the 21.99% APR, regardless of each account’s balance. You’d then pay down the line of credit with 18% APR, leaving the 15.99% APR account for last.
The debt avalanche approach saves you money by reducing the amount of interest you pay on your debts. For accounts with high interest rates, this could save you hundreds of dollars over time.
Accounts with high balances will take a while to pay down. If the account with the highest interest rate also has a high balance, you could make payments for a year or more before it’s paid off, which can be frustrating or disheartening. If you think slow progress will be discouraging, consider other ways to pay off your debt.
Debt Consolidation Loan
A debt consolidation loan can simplify your life and your finances, and it can save you money. With this approach, you take out a personal loan equal to the balances of the credit cards and loans you have and use it to pay off your debts. This leaves you with one monthly payment instead of several, and if you find a personal loan with a low interest rate, you’ll pay less over time.
For example, say you have four credit cards or open accounts, with balances of $500, $700, $800, and $1,000. The highest APR on these is 21.99%. For debt consolidation, you would want to take out a $3,000 loan (enough to cover your existing debt) with an APR of 20% or below for the best savings. From that point forward, you’d only need to make one monthly payment, and you’ll pay less interest.
Consolidating your debt into one loan means only having one monthly payment, and with a debt consolidation loan through Avant, you’ll have one fixed interest rate. Budgeting will be simpler, and your monthly payment may be lower than the sum of the payments you were making before. Personal loans may also offer lower interest rates than credit cards, so consolidation is especially advantageous if credit cards are your main source of debt.
If your credit could use some improvement, you may receive a higher interest rate or lower loan amount than you’d like. In these situations, other options for debt consolidation may be a better fit for you.
4. Balance Transfer Credit Card
This is another consolidative way to pay off debt. A balance transfer credit card allows you to transfer balances from other accounts to the new card, paying off those balances and resulting in one new balance and payment.
Balance transfer credit cards can offer special introductory APRs – even 0% APR for a short time. This could allow you to pay off part or all of your existing debt with little to no interest, potentially generating significant savings. Once the introductory period is over, though, interest will begin to accrue.
There’s nothing like being able to pause the interest accrual on a debt. Some balance transfer credit cards offer 0% APR during the introductory period, which could last for a year or more. Stopping the accrual of interest could help give you a leg up on paying down your balance, and it may motivate you to pay it down faster.
If you’re able to pay it all off before the introductory period expires, you’ll avoid paying interest at all on the balance you transferred, which can make a world of difference to your finances.
Balance transfer cards may charge a fee each time you transfer a balance to it, usually 3-5% of the transferred amount (with a $5 or $10 minimum fee). If you’re transferring $3,000 to the card, a 5% fee would be $150, which is added to the card’s balance.
You’ll also have a credit limit on the balance transfer card. If you have a $2,500 limit but $3,000 of debt, you’d be left with $500 still on the original account, accruing interest. If you still have a balance when the introductory period ends, interest will start accruing. The introductory period can be revoked early if you make a late payment.
Another consideration is how this move could impact your credit score. Credit utilization accounts for 20% or more of your overall score, so if the balance you’re transferring is close to the credit limit on the balance transfer card, your score may take a hit.
Increase Your Monthly Debt Payments
Increase Your Income
Increasing your monthly payments is a reliable way to pay off credit card and loan debt fast. Here, we break down different approaches and tips for paying off credit card debt and loans by increasing your payments.
- Become a virtual assistant on the side – There are many legitimate sites where you can sell your time and skillset. Perhaps you are good at resume writing, you’ve got a knack for transcription, or you like to design blog avatars in your spare time. To get you started earning extra cash, check out similar listings on Upwork.com for ideas as well as price ranges. Then, submit your own!
- Cash out credit card rewards – Is it time to cash out your credit card reward points? See if you can get a statement credit, actual cash, or get a gift card for a purchase you were planning to make anyway so that you can use that money towards debt repayment.
- Pick up extra shifts at work – Sometimes the easiest way to bring in extra cash is to ask for more work (if you are paid hourly… salary workers, you probably don’t want to do this).
- Get a seasonal, part-time job – Do you have time to work at a Christmas tree lot in the winter? Or become a weekend camp counselor in the summer? There are lots of seasonal opportunities that can be a great, temporary infusion of cash to help you reach your goal quicker.
- Ask for a raise – The fact is, increasing your pay can turbo boost your debt repayment, so it’s worth it to ask! Ramit is a great go-to resource for helping you do this knee-wobbling task.
- Host a digital yard sale – Gather up all of those extra belongings you’ve been meaning to get rid of and take an afternoon to list them on eBay, Craigslist, local Facebook groups, etc.
- Dog walk and pet sit – This is a great way to get some exercise and make some extra cash. Post your ad on a community bulletin board, Facebook page, or Craigslist, or just spread the word among dog owners. You’ll be surprised how lucrative this can be, especially in a big city.
- Pick up scrap metal – Do you have a truck? You can pick up people’s old appliances and other scrap metal and actually trade it in at your local center for some cold, hard cash. Money earned is based on metal type and weight.
There are a variety of areas to potentially save money so that you can put more towards paying off your debts.
- Negotiate a lower interest rate – Call up your credit card company, medical creditors, and others to ask for a lower interest rate.
- Carpool – Carpooling is a great way to cut your monthly gas costs considerably, enabling you to use that money for debt repayment. Look for online communities around your local metro on Craigslist, Reddit, or other regional websites. Not only do you get to take days off from driving, you won’t have to face the commute alone every day!
- Make sure you apply for all eligible tax deductions and credits – Many people miss important (and lucrative) tax credits or deductions. If you are unsure of how to do your taxes or what you are eligible for, then it could save you money in the long run to hire a professional (hint: generally the cost of getting your taxes professionally done is tax deductible as well).
- Leverage your social network – Some of the services you currently use probably have an affiliate network or referral plans, which pay you to generate more business for them. Sign up for your favorite service’s affiliate program, and start touting their benefits to your family and friends!
- Have medical debt? The Affordable Care Act requires non-profit hospitals to make financial assistance available to low-income patients and post those policies online, and half of US hospitals are non-profit.
- Cut out entertainment services – If you subscribe to multiple streaming services, try cutting back to just one or two, even if it’s only for a few months. Put the money you save toward paying off your debts, and use more of your free time to read, make art, or even earn online certifications relevant to your career, which could snag you a raise.
- Spend $20 less on groceries each month – Whether it’s by using coupons or cutting back on unhealthy snacks, saving just $5 each week on groceries can add up. If you save $20 each month, you’ll have an extra $240 every year to put toward your debts, which could cover an entire month’s credit card payment.
- Ditch unused memberships –Chances are high that you have memberships or subscriptions – such as digital magazines, gaming platforms, or a gym membership – that you barely use. Go through your bank and credit card statements. If there are recurring charges for a service you haven’t used in a month, cancel it. You can always pick it back up once your debts are paid down.
- Take food with you – Instead of buying food while you’re at work or out running errands, pack some with you, such as leftovers for lunch or an apple for a snack. If you don’t think this will help much, check your most recent card statements, adding up the amount you’ve spent on food (not including groceries). If you put even half of that toward your debts, you can still treat yourself occasionally while making progress on your debts.
- Keep the change – Are you constantly finding change in your couch, under your TV stand, or in your car? Start dropping it all in an empty container (like a coffee can), then cash it in when it’s full. You won’t miss your loose change, and you’ll be surprised at how much you accumulate. Put it toward your debts to pay them off faster.
Learn More About Avant Debt Consolidation Loans
Dealing with ongoing debt is hard financially and mentally, but Avant offers solutions to help. Check out our debt consolidation loans, which offer fast disbursement, fixed monthly payments, and APRs as low as 9.95%*, depending on your credit standing. You can manage your account through our easy-to-use mobile app, and we’ll be with you every step of the way. It’s just one way Avant makes a difference.
*APR ranges from 9.95% to 35.99% with the lowest rates available only for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved, actual rates may vary based on credit history, current income, ability to repay, and other factors.
**Example: A $5,900 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,619.75, repayable in 36 monthly installments, with an APR of 29.95% would have monthly payments of $250.30.
Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank.