As you reflect on your resolutions for a productive, happy, healthy new year, one of your goals might be to get a handle on your debt. Whether you're one of the 81.5 percent of Millennials with some form of debt or a new parent keeping up with the expense of a growing family, nothing says you have to stay in the red.
With so many tech and digital solutions available to help manage spending, saving, investing and loan repayment, you can start making plans now to pay off your debt and put that money into something else that may actually pay you.
There are a lot of reasons why people may end up in debt, and they're not all bad. Whether you took out loans to finish business school, just bought your first house or are getting ready to add a new baby to your family, you may be looking for ways to achieve financial balance. Yet more than a quarter of all individuals in debt don't have plans for repayment, whether they feel locked into monthly spending habits or are battling a sense of being overwhelmed. A great way to start is with tried-and-true advice that sounds like it's straight out of grandma's mouth — with a few tech-savvy tips too.
Debt Payoff Strategies to Start Today
If you feel financially unprepared, there are a few methods for paying off debt you can start exploring. The right one for you depends on your spending habits, your financial situation and even your personality.
An effective way to pay off multiple loans can be with the debt snowball method. With this plan, you'll make minimum payments on everything you owe except your smallest debt, which you'll pay back as aggressively as possible. Once that first debt is totally repaid, you'll move on to the second-smallest debt with the same level of enthusiasm. This method is considered one of the best because, like a growing snowball, you gain momentum as you see those loans disappear. You probably know yourself better than anyone, and if you know you'll need motivation early in the process to keep at it, then the snowball approach may be a great fit.
If you're more concerned with paying off debts in a way that saves you the most cash over time, consider the debt avalanche method (sometimes called debt stacking or the ladder method). With this plan, you'll start by attacking the debt with the highest interest rate first, while making minimum payments on everything else. Then you'll move on to the next-highest interest rate debt and continue down the list from there. You may not get early victories with the avalanche, but you'll keep interest payments to a minimum.
If you're navigating too many high-interest credit cards or other repayments, you might also consider a personal debt consolidation loan or student loan refinancing options. If you're truly committed to keeping your debt in check, and if you otherwise have good credit, these can be excellent ways to kick-start your plans in the new year in order to start working toward being debt-free.
Track It With Tech
Whatever debt payoff strategy you choose, turn to tech for a convenient way to keep track of it all. Financial apps can monitor your daily purchasing habits, help you build a zero-balance budget, alert you to changes in your credit, show you where you might be able to save money, or help you pay down debt. The convenience of carrying these digital tools in your pocket or purse, and having access to them throughout the day whenever you use your smartphone or other device, may make it easier to stay on track.
Even better, for added convenience, choose a banking solution with some of those tools already built in. Look for digital banking solutions with calendars and bill pay scheduling, alerts for when you're at risk of an overdraw, at-a-glance spend availability, and spending categories that promote budgeting without any extra hassle of tracking and organizing.
It isn't difficult to take on debt — and if you have a good plan and smart tools to use along the way, it doesn't have to be difficult to get out from under it, either.