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How to Get Out of Debt: 5 Ideas

By Selena Maranjian - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:20PM

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Even huge debts can be paid off -- here's how.

If you're mired in debt, especially high-interest-rate credit card debt, it can seem impossible to dig yourself out. Take heart, though, because it can be done. Here at The Motley Fool, we've long heard inspiring stories about ordinary people paying off extraordinarily large amounts of debt.

There are many ways to go about it, but here are just a few thoughts on how to get out of debt that you might keep in mind:

  • Tackle your high-interest-rate debt first. That's because it's costing you the most in interest payments. If you're paying off lots of loans, it can be tempting to pay off and eliminate the smallest ones first, but you'll get more bang for your buck by retiring your costliest debt first.
  • Don't make things worse. Once you've committed to paying off your debt, aim to not add to it. Rein in your spending, and only charge what you can afford. In order to do that, some people have cut up their cards, or have frozen them in water and kept them literally on ice, in the freezer.
  • Negotiate a lower rate. As you stress out about your steep interest rates and how to get out of debt, you might not realize it, but you may be able to call your credit card company and ask for (and receive!) a lower rate. It will help if you've been a well-behaved longtime customer, but even if not, you can threaten to switch to a lower-interest-rate card.
  • Consider some extreme measures, such as getting a part-time job. It won't be easy, but it won't be forever, either. And it can help you generate valuable extra dollars to pay down your debt faster and avoid a lot more interest expense. If you net $10 per hour at a side job for 10 hours per week, that's an extra $100 per week. Over six months, it's $2,600 -- a powerful debt-reduction help. Alternatively, you might just look for a new job, one that pays more -- and perhaps even offers better benefits. You might raise some more funds by decluttering your home via a yard sale, too. 
  • Make a budget. Very often, people end up in debt because they don't have a good handle on how much they really bring in and how much they're spending. You can develop a better sense of how to get out of debt if you break out all your monthly expenses and inflows and see places where you can pare down spending or boost income. Perhaps you can get rid of premium channels on your cable subscription -- or ditch it altogether in favor of a streaming service.

Don't think you're doomed if you're stuck in deep debt. Once you're armed with some ideas for how to get out of debt, you can start taking steps toward a much healthier financial life.

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