When you’re in debt, it can seem impossible to get out of debt. But the first step to getting out of debt is to stop taking more on. Of course, this is easier said than done — but it’s not impossible.
Pay For Everything With Cash or Debit
When you make all of your purchases with cash or a debit card, you can only spend the money you actually have. If your debit card offers overdraft protection, turn this off so that you aren’t able or tempted to spend more than you have.
Put Any Plans for Major Purchases on Hold
While you’re in the process of paying off debt, delay making any major purchases.
“Prioritize what is most important today versus what would be nice to have,” said Amy Richardson, director at Charles Schwab. “This might mean pushing out a home purchase a couple of years or postponing a vacation. Making these hard choices today will provide peace of mind and help you achieve your financial goals for the long term.”
Once you’ve paid off debts, you can make it a priority to start saving for these purchases so you won’t have to take on new debt to make them.
Avoid Temptations To Spend
Stay away from the stores and websites that tempt you to spend unnecessarily.
“If you feel tempted to impulse buy and create more debt, then it is better to avoid going near the temptation,” said Jon Bradshaw, president of Codebase. “For example, stay away from retail stores. Order your groceries so you don’t impulse buy in the store. And get some hobbies that keep you off the internet at night so you are not tempted to hit the ‘buy’ button on Amazon or other online retailers.”
Prepare For the Unexpected
Many people go into debt due to unplanned expenses such as a medical emergency or an unexpected home repair. Saving money in an emergency fund and purchasing the appropriate insurance policies for yourself, your family, your car and your home can help ensure that you won’t rack up debt if the unexpected happens.
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Jaime Catmull contributed to the reporting for this article.