This post is was originally published on The Penny Hoarder
When my wife and I first got married, we knew we had a fair amount of consumer debt, which included student loans, credit cards and a car loan. But we’ve never really taken the time to think about the impact that debt had on our financial health. We just did what everyone else did: Go to work, collect a paycheck and pay the bills.
Before we sat down and crunched the numbers, we didn’t really worry much about the debt or the payments that came with it.
Loans and credit card balances consumed a lot money each month, and once we realized it, we knew something had to change.
When we assessed the situation, we realized we had $52,000 in debt. That’s when we decided we had to start making better choices with our money or we’d live like this forever.
The steps we took to become debt free quickly can work for you too. Here’s how we did it.
Our Plan to Pay the Debt Off Quickly
We knew it’d be tough work to pay off the debt quickly, but we decided that several months of intense effort was the best way to go about it.
If we could pay the debt off quickly, we’d have more money in our pockets to spend as we pleased instead of paying for things we purchased long ago.
We put four steps in place to get the debt paid off as soon as we could.
We Sold Our Possessions
The first thing we decided to do was sell whatever we could to get cash to put toward the debt. It seemed like we were selling everything we owned.
My new Nissan Altima was the first item to go. Because we had it for less than a year, we lost $6,000 as far as the value of the car. Not only that, but we were upside down about $1,000 so it was worth it to getting rid of that debt and the monthly payment.
We also sold my wife’s newer car. Since her car was paid off, we walked away with $6,000 in cash. Then, we took that money and bought two older, reliable used cars.
After we sold our cars, we went through the house and listed just about everything we owned on eBay or Craigslist.
My wife sold dozens of pieces of clothing and accessories, I sold my gaming system, and we went through closets and drawers to sell whatever else we could find.
It seemed like every day I was shipping out something sold on eBay or meeting up with someone from Craigslist. It was great to finally feel in control of our money situation.
If you are willing to sell unnecessary items to pay off your debt, you can speed up the process in a big way. We probably made a couple thousand dollars selling stuff around our house that we no longer needed. We used a portion of this money to pay off the $1,000 we were upside down on my Altima.
We Trimmed Our Expenses
The next step we took was to look at our spending and see where we could cut expenses. We made a budget for the first time and decided we would cut most of our unnecessary expenses.
If you want to pay off your debt quickly, you’ll likely need to do the same. Cut the cable bill, restaurant expenses, gym memberships, salon visits and everything else you can live without until the debt is gone.
One expense we didn’t cut, though, was what I call “girl/guy money.” My wife and I budgeted a small amount of money each month we could spend as we pleased.
This really helped us not feel too restricted as we paid off our debt.
We Increased Our Income
Another move that helps you quickly pay off your debt is to bring in additional income that goes directly toward debt.
In my case, I took on a part-time job delivering pizzas. It wasn’t always fun or easy. If business was slow, I had to clean the drain traps or change the oil in the fryers.
I focused on the fact that it was a short-term job and that it would help us to get out of debt faster.
If you want to increase your income to pay off debt quickly, you have a number of options. You can work overtime at work, get a second job or start a side hustle.
Make sure you put all of your additional income toward debt and don’t be tempted to spend it on other things.
We Refinanced Our High-Interest Debt
The final step we took was to consolidate and refinance our higher interest debt. We had a few credit cards we were paying over 13% interest on, so we refinanced them to get a lower interest rate.
Lowering the interest rates on your will help you speed up the payoff process.
Within 18 months, we were completely free of consumer debt.
After we were debt free, we decided to work on paying off our mortgage early and are now close to being free of a mortgage as well.
It’s not easy, but with a solid budget, increased income and a better understanding of how you’re spending, you can get out of debt.
You’ll never regret putting yourself in a better financial situation.
Deacon Hayes is the founder of WellKeptWallet.com and the author of You Can Retire Early: Everything You Need to Know About Financial Independence When You Want it.