If you are waking up at night wondering how in the world you will ever pay off debt and continue all of the regular expenses incurred day to day for 2017, it’s a great time to consider how you’d approach a debt reduction and pay off plan.
There are generally two ways to think about paying off debt:
1- Pay off the debts with the highest interest first.
2- Pay off the debts with the lowest balance first.
Which of these methods of debt repayment you choose depends on how you “feel” about the two options. Yes, feelings do impact money much more than you might realize.
So, if you are someone who has a ton of patience and values slowing down the amount of interest paid and you can tolerate a longer wait to a victory (an actual payoff of one debt from your list), you will probably choose option number one. It’s a logical and practical way to approach debt payoff and it may actually save you a few bucks in actual payoff dollars (interest) over time.
But many people need to see quick results to stay motivated in debt repayment. In this case, option number two can often deliver some quick victories in actually removing debts from the list. Let’s say you have a few smaller, unsecured debts like doctor bills, debts to family or a credit card you use infrequently that has a small balance. Or perhaps you have some collection notices for very small amounts – old medical or parking ticket bills or a debt – like a car, student loan, or furniture payment – where you are down to the last couple of payments. In this case, you may find that paying off a couple of smaller or soon to be paid off debts can quickly make that actual list of debts list shrink significantly. This kind of momentum may motivate you to continue by taking the amounts applied to these debts and moving it over to larger debts on the list (perhaps the ones with the higher interest rates).
Stop worrying, stop charging, and decide to make an impact on your debt in 2017. Some longer-term debts may take a few years to repay. But if you cut your current spending in small ways and shift those extra dollars to debt repayment for the upcoming months, you will see the consumer debt that’s accumulated begin to go down pretty quickly. Try to make a plan that eliminates all of your non-mortgage debt within no more than five years.
If you are at a loss as to where to start, seek assistance from a non-profit consumer credit counseling agency like those who are members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC.org). Before you do anything rash, ask for support from professionals who can work with you to make a solid plan. Make 2017 about doing yourself a huge favor and digging into and ditching that debt!