5 Action Steps To Take Before Crushing Your Debt

Y’all, it’s 2019 and that means it’s time for us to all whip out our budget planners and get our game plans ready to tackle our debts! I know how exciting the idea of being debt-free is and as always, I’m here to help you succeed!

Before diving headfirst into the whirlwind that is chipping away at debts, here are 5 steps to take into consideration to make this process as smooth as possible!

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1. Get a CLEAR idea of your debt

The first thing you have to do before you can demolish that pesky debt is to figure out not only how much you owe on all accounts, but also how much the debt is costing you (AKA interest *side eye*).

If you’re anything like me, writing everything out on a cute payoff chart is a great way to get it out in the open and on paper. I know, I know, it’s so scary to actually SEE how much you owe, but just think about how accomplished you’ll feel as you watch that number fall! That weight will start getting farther and farther away from your shoulders.

Once you figure out exactly how much you have to pay, you can pick your preferred method.

  • Debt Snowball: This is my preferred plan-of-action. Basically, you start with your smallest debt and work on paying that off. Once it’s paid off, you move on to your next highest debt and apply the payment you were making (minimum + extra) to that balance and so on and so forth. To me, this method isn’t as overwhelming as the debt avalanche and it gives you a chance to celebrate your victories quicker.
  • Debt Avalanche: This method is the opposite of the snowball. With this, you pay your highest interest debt, not necessarily the highest, because this is what’s costing you the most money. So it’s super aggressive, BUT it’s saving you more money in the long run.
  • Paying whatever the hell you want: Self-explanatory!

2. Take a deep breath and identify your “why”

Alright, you made it past the painful task of writing everything down and facing the reality of your debt. That was a big step in the process, so congratulations, mama!

Now that that’s been done, it’s time to take a deep breath– go ahead, inhale in and exhale out.

One more time for good measure. With those breaths out of the way, take a good, hard look at your debts and state your “why”. Why do you want to get rid of that debt? How will being debt-free benefit you? For me, my “why” is both my little sister and simply wanting to be one step closer to financial freedom.

I want to continue setting a great example for my younger sister and continue to educate her on personal finance, so she can be better than I was at her age. Oh yes, the sweet age of 18 where we think we know it all…not quite, missy!

How can I set a good example if I’m swimming in debt?

I can’t say don’t get a credit card and go crazy because that’s exactly what I did, but you live and you learn, am I right? I also don’t want to continue giving credit card companies all of my hard earned cash every month because I can think of 13,843,453 better things that I could be doing with it.

Identifying your “why” and remembering that while you’re making the sacrifices you are, will definitely help keep you on track and motivated.

Identifying your “why” and remembering that while you’re making the sacrifices you are, will definitely help keep you on track and motivated. Click To Tweet

So, when you’re biting your lip as you walk right passed Starbucks or Sephora, pat yourself on the back and think about the end result!

motivational journal

3. Arm yourself with debt-crushing tools

So, we’ve figured out how much we owe and we’ve identified why we’re ready to knock this debt out. The very next step is to suit up in our oh so stylish armor and whip out our smartphones.

There are so many apps out these days that are designed to assist you in not only keeping on track with your budget and goals but also to help you save money that can go right to your debts.

Do a little searching and find what you think will work best for you and your situation. Here are some of my favorite apps/methods that have helped me in my journey to a debt-free life:

  • If saving money isn’t your strongest suit, I highly recommend Digit. This app checks out your spending habits and saves money here and there based off of what you can afford. They even have a new feature that can pay your credit card automatically with the money they’ve saved towards your credit card goals. I saved enough to make more than my minimum payment which is a win in my book!
  • Chipper is an app that is here to help those with student loan debt. We’ve all been fed the “American Dream” about going to college, but let’s be honest: college is a total scam. We go to school, have to borrow money and then struggle to find jobs that can help us pay them off. It’s such a vicious cycle. With Chipper, your daily transactions get rounded up and saved to then be paid toward your student loans. It’ a great way to get beyond just paying interest and to start putting a dent in your loans.
  • Okay, so this isn’t a fancy app or anything, but creating a budget and sticking to it/living below my means has been a big help! Right now, the budgeting method that has worked best for me is the cash budget. Each paycheck, I pay half of my bills and whatever is left after bills and savings, I budget into cash envelopes and that’s all I have to use until my next paycheck. I have 6 categories: Beauty, Gas, Eri (my dog), Food, Fun and Miscellaneous. When you allocate your money, it gives you a better idea of what you can afford to save from your regular job and can also curb any unnecessary spending. I’m looking at you, Target shoppers!
  • Opening a fee-free bank account can be very helpful to make sure you avoid having to shell out any extra money while trying to pay off debt. I recently opened a Capital One 360 checking account and closed my Chase account. And so far, so good! The Capital One savings account also earns 1.00% so you’ll be making money on interest as well, something the big name banks won’t do for you. Ally Bank (2.20%) and Synchrony (2.25%) also offer high-yield savings accounts.

4. Build your emergency fund

An emergency fund is exactly what it sounds like, money that you have access to in the event of an emergency. Having an emergency fund saves from you from messing up your previously mentioned budget or even having to possibly add more debt by getting a loan. If you have to get something fixed that costs, say $500, wouldn’t it be a lot better to dip into your savings and get it done hassle-free, rather than use the last dime you had to your name until your next paycheck to cover it? That’s the beauty of emergency funds and where the high-yield savings accounts come into play!

It saves you the displeasure of spending all your hard-earned side hustle cash (more on that next) on random car maintenance or whatever else life has to throw at you. So make sure to set aside your preferred amount to the side from your check!

5. Side hustle your way to freedom

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of side hustling. Let me tell you, side hustles have saved my life. It’s helped me to pay bills when my paycheck was short or I just wasn’t working full-time in general. Right now, my game plan is to literally pay my $8,000 of credit card debt purely from side hustles. If I can do it, so can you!

Whether you prefer to hustle in front of your computer screen, behind the wheel of your car or in front of some cute kids, or at a regular-degular part-time job, the choice is yours! Here are my top picks for side hustles that have been super helpful:

Uber/UberEats: I’ve formulated my entire debt pay-off plan around uber eats and my part-time job at UPS. Living in Austin makes it super easy to make a minimum $20 a day. It’s a metropolitan city filled with restaurants and hungry folks, so it’s the perfect side hustle for those of you with a car and some free time! I just finished my first week with UberEats and I made $90 doing it sparingly.

Start a blog: Having a profitable blog could be the gateway for a brand-new life! There are bloggers like Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents that make over $100,000 a month from her blog and there are those that make $100 a month. Personally, I’ve made $200 and that’s without trying too hard. It’s super cheap to start a blog and I’ve worked it out to where my readers can get going for $3.95/mo. (the normal price is $11.95)! Click here to get started today!

Babysitting/nanny/tutor: If you have experience with children, this is a great way to make cash on the side. I’ve been nannying since 2014 and it’s definitely helped to pay some bills in a crunch! My current call-when-needed job pays me $150 for 2 days and I’m only there overnight. Previously, I would get $400/mo to watch 2 awesome little boys while I was in college. I only use care.com for my nanny jobs and they also offer cleaning jobs, tutoring, and errands/odd jobs.

The opportunities are endless!

cash envelopes

Bonus tip: Have patience!

I know how exciting the idea of being debt free is, trust me, but as with all good things in life, it takes time. There will be ups and downs along this journey, but where’s the fun in something easy? Trust God’s timing, work your butt off and you’ll be reaping the rewards before you know it. Once you’re debt free there will be so many things that you’ll be able to do that you couldn’t before and that’s motivation in itself!

Good luck! ❤️❤️

Are you ready to start powering your way to financial freedom? Drop your game plan below! 👇🏾👇🏾

Til’ next time,

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