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The Fast Track Way to Pay Off Debt

[Monday, March 21st, 2016]

The credit card bills are adding up, your mortgage payment is hanging over your head every month, and the kids just keep on needing new shoes. When you’re in debt, it can feel overwhelming. You might think you’ll be in debt forever. But there’s a way to pay down your debt quickly: the fast track to being debt free.

Here’s how to get on it:

The first thing to do is stop adding to your debt. If you’ve got a credit card you’re trying to pay down, but you’re still making purchases with it, stop immediately. Use another card for purchases, or apply for one if you need to, and concentrate on paying off the card with the lingering balance.

Apply for a balance transfer card that offers a long introductory period with a 0% APR, or a low ongoing APR. Transfer all your debt to that card if you can, and focus on paying it off before the promotional period ends.

Now, pay more than the minimum due each month. Look at your statement and find the little table that tells you how long it will take you to zero out your balance if you pay only the minimum, compared with paying some amount over the minimum. Now look at how much interest you’ll pay if you only pay the minimum, compared with if you pay a bit more. Convinced yet? You will be when you see it. Paying double the minimum more than cuts in half the time it will take to become debt-free. So pay as much as you can, and definitely more than the minimum payment due.

Here’s one that’s less fun, but necessary if you’re serious about paying off your debt. If you earn rewards on a card you’re trying to pay off, use them as a statement credit. This might seem small, but every $20 or $50 helps. Don’t blow your rewards on a gift card to a bookstore or a night in a hotel, if you can use them to chip away at the amount you owe.

Cut back on your spending until your debt is paid off. Again, this isn’t a fun one, but you may just have to bite the bullet and stop spending as much on coffee, shoes, movies, or whatever fun things tend to bust your budget. Once your debt is paid off, by all means, go crazy and spend money however you want—as long as you’re not doing it with a credit card you can’t pay off.

Pay off the smallest balances first. There are two schools of thought here: one is that you should pay off your highest APR cards first, and one is that you should tackle the small balances first. But paying off those small balances is so rewarding, it’s the better route for the fast-track method. Besides, if you’ve transferred your debt to 0% or low APR cards, you won’t have any high-interest cards anyway.

Once you’ve implemented these fast track debt reduction ideas, you’ll be surprise how fast that debt melts away. And your credit score will rise at the same time. So start today, and be debt-free before you know it.

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