Americans are in debt — a lot of it. A recent survey found that the average 25-to-34-year-old carries $42,000 in debt, and that doesn’t even include mortgages.
Because of this financial burden, many adults are delaying life milestones and putting off things like buying houses, getting married and starting families, and it seems there is no stopping the cycle. However, the experts at Forbes Finance Council have some smart strategies for young Americans to rid themselves of debt quicker. Follow their tips to give yourself the financial freedom to live your life on your own terms.
1. Pay Your Smallest Debts Off First
The sooner you can reduce debt, the sooner you can grow your assets. Many clients find the “debt snowball” method useful. They focus on paying off their smallest debts first (in total) and then systematically roll all those monthly payments into the next loan(s). This may not be the cheapest in terms of interest payments, but the momentum and sense of accomplishment can build rapidly. — Gregory Ostrowski, Scarborough Capital Management
2. Track Your Monthly Cash Flow
The first thing you need to do is look at your monthly cash flow and see where your money is going. If you are truly serious about getting out of debt, you must cut out optional (and sometimes spontaneous) spending. Once you cut out the fat, start making dents into the principal of your debt. Stop making minimum payments. Start with your highest interest debt and have a plan to pay it off. — Scott Bishop, STA Wealth Management
3. Make A Savings Account And Budget
People should set a budget by making a savings account and having a percentage of their paycheck directly deposited into this account. The funds from this account should be used to exclusively pay off any debts that they may have. By setting aside a pre-allocated amount monthly, they will be able to pay down their debt quicker. — Ben Jen, Ben Jen Holdings SLLC
4. Understand The Difference Between ‘Want’ And ‘Need’
Younger people often live above their means and don’t differentiate between what they want and what they need. Coming up with a strict budget starting in college, which includes working and saving “x” amount of each paycheck, will make your expenses and bills more predictable. You can make a point to cook more meals at home and only splurge on something you enjoy (within reason) a few times a month. — Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
5. Start Paying With Cash
To rid yourself of debt quickly, start using cash. In the midst of this spend change, pay your smaller debts first to build momentum and gradually work toward your largest debts one by one. By the time you pay off a bulk of your debt, you will be accustomed to using cash and will be able to pay off your debt quickly. Once you pay off your debt, create a savings plan for up to five goals. — Geanette Rodriguez-Ojeda, ARRI Rental
6. Leverage Technology
Debt can stifle our progress toward major life milestones or, worse, block us from them entirely. Today there are apps that are designed to solve this very problem using algorithms and automation to make smarter financial choices for us. From paying down debt to putting money towards savings and investments, technology allows us to set goals and track our progress more efficiently. — Jason Brown, Tally App
7. Automate Your Payments
The first step is to reduce unnecessary spending and exhaust all options before taking on more debt. This can mean opting for a cheap, fuel-efficient car or living in a shared space further from the city. Automate payments after each paycheck to help ease the mental burden of paying off debt and to keep your spending in check. Pay off higher-interest debt first so that interest costs are kept low. — Atish Davda, EquityZen
8. Start Small And Build Good Habits
Cut unnecessary spending, pay more than the minimum payment and fight against instant gratification. This is all great advice, but how do you fight against all the advertising telling you the exact opposite? If you are serious about getting out of debt, you have to build good habits. The way to do it is to start small, paying just a few extra dollars more than minimum, then increase gradually. — Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA