by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA
Numerous people have told me that Mary Hunt’s book Debt-Free Living is well worth a look. This weekend, I finally got a chance to read it. Sure enough, it had some excellent points. My favorite was her four rules for getting out of debt. I will share below.
According to Mary, shrinking your debt is not all that different from shrinking your waist, so just like your diet, your action plan needs to be simple and specific. It is also crucial that you can measure your progress, and that you have a specific completion date. All payment plans work in theory – but they will only make a difference for you if you can stick to them. So be realistic when crafting it, and your chances for success are much bigger. Then make sure you work these four rules into the formula.
- There can be no more debt. You are never going to be debt free if you keep borrowing. It’s a bit like binge eating while on a diet – except you can’t make yourself sick afterwards.
- Pay the same amount every month. Over time, as your balances and minimum payments start to look smaller, you will be tempted to slow down and make smaller payments. Don’t. The faster you pay it off, the less finance charges you have to pay, and the smaller number of dollars will stand between you and financial freedom!
- List your balances according to size and payback time.
- Whenever you’ve paid off one balance, add the size of the payment you used to make toward it to the next one, and really get the ball rolling.
Paying off debt is no more fun than being on a diet, but if you keep envisioning your goal and implementing these four steps, you will be out of your crunch before you know it.