Reducing your debt to become Wealthy

Becoming wealthy is all about your personal finances. Making sure your personal finances are in shape can mean the difference between living pay check to pay check and sipping margaritas on your private beach. The formula to become wealthy is a simple mathematical equation, Income minus Expenses. Earn more than you spend. It works every time. Guaranteed. How fast you start rolling in the dough depends on how big the difference is between your income and expenses. There are two ways to make the formula work quicker for you. Number one: increase your income, which is covered in some of my other posts. Or two: decrease your expenses. One of the biggest expenses most people have is the amount of interest they pay each month to their credit cards and loans.

Simple plan

There are various simple plans. Most of them boil down to paying more than the minimum payment due each month. Here is a list of several ways, use one or use them all. The first step for all of these is STOP using your credit cards.

  1. After you have paid all your bills for the month, send what is left toward one of your debts.
  2. If you get a Tax Refund: instead of spending that Tax Refund on new clothes or a set of golf clubs, spend it on your future. Your future rich self. Use the entire amount to pay off that credit card (or two).
  3. Your Bonus: As above.
  4. Ever notice how that extra money from a pay raise disappears? Use the extra amount you get in your paycheck to pay off a credit card and you will notice that balance starting to disappear.

Debt Snowball

The simple way (above) is just that – simple, you will pay down your debts eventually but will likely be slow and you probably won’t stick to it when your bonus or tax refund arrives. You’ll say “I’ll just spend part of it then the rest to my credit card”. The problem is human nature: in your mind, you will have spent your tax refund three times over. You get a $1,000 refund, but you’ve already purchased $3,000 of stuff in your head. However, there is an answer. Actually, there are two. The debt snowball and the debt avalanche.

Debt snowball steps:

  1. Stop using your credit card(s).
  2. Create a budget and determine how much you have left over to pay down your debt.
  3. Pay the minimum payment on all your cards except the one with the lowest balance.
  4. Now, take the amount left over from your budget and ADD it to the minimum payment for that card. So if the payment is $25 and you have an extra $25 in your budget, then you would pay $50 to that credit card.
  5. When you have paid off that card add the $50 to the minimum payment of the next card, the one with the smallest balance now.
  6. Wash, rinse, repeat.
  7. To turbocharge your debt reduction, use the Simple Ways listed above too. If you get a bonus, pay off that debt quicker.

Debt Avalanche

The Debt Avalanche is the same as the debt snowball except for this time you pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. This is the most efficient way to pay down your debt. You pay the least amount of interest this way, but you may not get the early wins like you do when you pay off a credit card in the debt snowball method. This is the method I used because I’m a geek and hated to pay more interest than I had too.

Debt Avalanche steps:

  1. Stop using your credit card(s).
  2. Create a budget and determine how much you have left over to pay down your debt.
  3. Pay the minimum payment on all your cards apart from the one with the highest interest rate.
  4. Now, take the amount left over from your budget and ADD it to the minimum payment. So if the payment is $25 and you have $25 in your budget, then you would pay $50 to that credit card.
  5. When you have paid off that card add the $50 to the minimum payment of the next card, the one that has the highest interest rate now.
  6. Wash, rinse, repeat.
  7. To turbocharge your debt reduction, use the Simple Ways listed above too. If you get a bonus, pay off that debt quicker.

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Using our example debts and $100 extra to pay each month.

Debt Snowball

We would pay $150 ($50 min payment + $100 extra) each month to Credit Card 1 (smallest amount to pay off). When Credit Card 1 is paid off we would take the $150 we have been paying and add it to the minimum payment for our next smallest debt, Credit Card 2. So now we have $275 a month to pay down credit card 2. Once Credit Card 2 is paid off we add the $275 to our last debt, the Car Loan. We are now paying $625 per month on our Car Loan.

Debt Avalanche

We would pay $225 ($125 min payment + $100 extra) each month to Credit Card 2 (highest interest rate). When Credit Card 2 is paid off we take the $225 we have been paying and add it to the minimum payment for our next debt, Credit Card 1. So now we have $275 a month to pay down Credit Card 1. Once Credit Card 1 is paid off we add the $275 to our last debt, the Car Loan. We are now paying $625 per month on our Car Loan.

Download our free Debt Snowball/Avalanche spreadsheet.

Summary

It’s amazing to watch your debts decrease so fast. I used the Debt Avalanche personally when I was paying off my debts. I can tell you that it works and after you have cleared down a couple of your debts it starts working quickly. You and enter your debts, extra payments, and select which method you want to use. It will calculate the amount to pay on each debt and show you when each debt is paid off. I hope it comes in handy.
I know how scary it can be to be deep in debt and wondering if you can ever escape. I’m here to tell you that you can because I did it myself. I’ve gone from living pay check to pay check, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, to having cash in the bank, stocks, no debt and able to stop working for 6 months for a mini-retirement. If I can do it you can too.

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