After graduating from Johnson C. Smith University in 2006, I was left with nearly $35,000 in student loans. The day that I relocated from North Carolina to Georgia my car begin having problems so I decided to take out a $1,500 credit card in which I quickly maxed out within the first few weeks. One thing led to another, next thing I notice I was nearly $80,000 in debt.
Getting out of debt now seems to be popular. Like mine, most debts were not all related to unconscious overspending but a majority was. Going out to eat, no worries I had credit. Need gas in the car, my credit card was my hero. Especially moving to Atlanta with so many fine ladies, I was having a date night almost every night thanks to my “handy dandy” credit card. Some call it death by one-thousand cuts I bought a little thing here, a little thing here and next thing I knew is that I looked up and I was “way over my head” in nearly $60,000 in debt. There may be numerous other reasons for accumulating your current debt including job loss, health issues, and major unexpected house/car/family emergencies.
Overall, the goal now is to get out of debt. The following tips helped me and I am certain that it will help you make a significant dent in that debt load.
The first thing that you must do is get motivated on the primary reason you are ready to take action on eliminating debt. Paying off debt can be a long and hard process. For some, it could take years to become debt-free (it took me 7+ years to pay off nearly $60,000 on a teacher’s income).
While on your journey to debt freedom, it’s only natural to have highs and lows. Having highs are great because you’re motivated and excited, and it seems like the debt just disappear. But it is equally important during the low times to find different ways to stay motivated. It takes a long time to get out of debt, but it’s so worth it! You just need to find ways to motivate yourself when you are going through a rough patch.
Occasionally treat yourself to a date night or a meal. Remind yourself about all that you will gain from not having payments coming out of your ears. When I was paying off debt, it felt like it was never going to end but we are here to tell you that it can be done! Stick to it! The motivation that worked for my wife and I was watching videos of other people doing their debt-free scream on the Dave Ramsey Show and rewarding ourselves in little ways like doing to the dollar flick to catch a movie.
Track ALL Progress
Identify and list ALL the debts (medical, legal, family, credit card, department stores, student, etc.)– showing the total due. When you make a budget and mark your progress you can see that you are making traction.
Total up the debt. Total up the finance charges and fees. Really take these numbers in. Of course, this is scary but very important for creating an effective plan and moving you to a debt-free life.
Call your creditors and ask them to waive the late fee. If you are usually on top of your bills and just got behind, often the creditors will work with you on waiving the fees – but you have to ASK. There’s a saying that goes “If you’re hungry you have to open your mouth to eat”. In other words, if you want something, speak up. The worst that could happen is that they say no and you have not lost anything. At least you tried.
If someone owed me money and they stop talking to me, that would be just rude. The same thing applies to the business world. You are only hurting yourself by ignoring phone calls or having your kids to lie and say you are not home. LET ALL YOUR CREDITORS KNOW your situation rather than just not paying or being late so they can work with you. Cutting off communication with your creditor is one of the worst things you can do.