8 Foolproof Steps to Get You Out of Debt Fast


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Do you desperately want to speed up your debt-reduction efforts? Here's how to do so without a crash diet.

Similar to losing weight, paying off debt requires dedication, determination and persistence. Trying to pay it down with drastic measures is not the wise way to go because you can’t really get to the root of the problem that way.

Don’t believe me? Just think about what happens to those who try a crash diet. Debt reduction works in the same manner; brief bouts of deprivation only make things worse.

Here are a few smart ways to pay off debt fast:

1. Stop using your cards

eskay / Shutterstock.comeskay / Shutterstock.com

I hear people complaining all the time about how much debt they’re in and how they desperately want a way out. My response: Are you still using your credit cards?

The answer is typically yes, which presents a big problem. If you really want to get out of debt, you will have to stop using your cards. The more you swipe, the more the balance climbs.

Having a hard time letting go? Try freezing the cards in a cup of ice. By the time you are able to access them again, hopefully you’ve changed your mind. And if you feel as if you can’t afford to let go because of financial constraints, start by setting up a spending plan and building an emergency fund to get you through those tough situations without having to resort to debt.

(If you’re trying to recover from a full-scale financial crisis, check out “7 Ways to Bounce Back From Financial Disaster,” which will help you go beyond debt payment to credit restoration and psychological relief.)

2. Pay as much as you can afford each month

Kaesler Media / Shutterstock.comKaesler Media / Shutterstock.com

Once you have an emergency fund intact, use any residual funds you have at your disposal to put toward debt, even if it’s only a few dollars. The more you pay, the faster you’ll get out of debt. Did you save money at the grocery store by stacking coupons with sales? Use the savings to pay off debt. Did you work some overtime last week? And if you find spare change lying around, use that as well.

3. Make cuts to your spending

chrisbrignell / Shutterstock.comchrisbrignell / Shutterstock.com

This may be tough to accomplish, as you’ll have to take a good look at where your money is going and separate the necessities from the mere wants. I’m not suggesting that you cut every single expense in the book by 75 percent, because your well-being is of the utmost importance. However, you can go without the daily trips to the local coffee shop or to your favorite lunch spot. Over time, these savings can add up and dig you out of the hole much quicker than you probably expected.

Check out ways that you can even make a game out of living on a budget.

4. Double up on payments

xstock / Shutterstock.comxstock / Shutterstock.com

So you’ve paid off one credit card? Congratulations, but that doesn’t mean it’s party time. A small and reasonably priced reward for your accomplishment is OK, but you need to keep the momentum going by allocating those funds that are now freed up to the next balance in line.

5. Use nonrecurring sources of income to pay down balances

Jean Lee / Shutterstock.comJean Lee / Shutterstock.com

As tempting as it is to use a source of nonrecurring income to buy something that you really want, bite the bullet and use a portion of the funds to pay off debt. Tax season is upon us, so here’s your opportunity if you will be receiving a refund. Or maybe you’re set to receive an inheritance? Be wise about where you spend your money; completely ignoring the debt to go on a shopping spree is definitely not a wise choice.

6. Freelance to earn extra money

mastermilmar / Shutterstock.commastermilmar / Shutterstock.com

Do you have a talent or skill in an area that people would be willing to pay you for? Try your hand at freelancing to make a few dollars on the side. In some instances, you may be able to generate a substantial amount of cash, all of which should be contributed to the debt-payoff fund to move things right along, unless you are behind on your bills or you barely have enough money in your possession to meet your basic needs.

For some ideas on applying your skills for cash, check out “20 Clever Ways to Make Extra Money.”

7. Tackle those debts with the highest interest rates first

Konstantin 71 / Shutterstock.comKonstantin 71 / Shutterstock.com

Although some prefer the debt snowball method, which suggests that you pay the debts with the lowest balances first to build momentum, I think it’s wiser to get those with the higher interest rates out of the way first. The ultimate goal is to pay off debt, however, so the choice is yours.

8. Don’t sacrifice the things you love the most

Myvisuals / Shutterstock.comMyvisuals / Shutterstock.com

Paying off debt may require you to make a few lifestyle changes, but it doesn’t have to be depressing. If you have a difficult time adjusting to new circumstances, implement gradual changes so the process won’t become too overwhelming.

Do you have any other debt-reduction tricks? Feel free to share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 10 Ideas for a Relaxing Stay-at-Home New Year’s Eve

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,902 more deals!