The New Year has begun, and millions of Americans have resolved to get their finances in better shape for 2014. But if you're trapped under a mountain of debt, it's hard to conceive of building up a big investment portfolio until you pay off everything you owe.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, gives some tips on how to get out of debt in 2014. Dan points out that the first step is figuring out how much you owe, which you can find out by getting a copy of your free credit report from Then, find out how much in interest you pay on each of your debts. Dan notes that typically, credit cards will have the highest rates, followed by mortgages and student loans. Finally, Dan suggests talking to credit card companies about lowering your rates. With 0% interest rates from Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup (NYSE:C), and American Express (NYSE:AXP) among others, there's enough competition in credit cards to give you some leverage. Dan concludes that if you want to get out of debt in 2014, you can -- just by following these simple rules.

Getting out of debt is your first step toward financial independence
Once you've figured out how to get out of debt, your next step is to start regularly investing in the stock market. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal-finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger owns warrants on Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends American Express and Bank of America and owns shares of Bank of America and Citigroup. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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