5 Strategies to Get & Stay Out of Debt

Debt is a four-letter word—and unfortunately for many millennials, it’s a fact of life. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With careful, actionable planning, consumer debt can be a thing of the past. Below, we’re sharing five ways to get (and stay!) out of debt.

Create a budget.

Chances are, not having a budget is what got you in debt in the first place. So this is a great place to start! Use a budget software like Mint or You Need a Budget, or put together a good old-fashioned spreadsheet! List all of your income, then break down each of your expenses into monthly, quarterly, and irregular categories. Aim to allocate 50 percent to necessities like rent and utilities, 30 percent to savings and debt repayment, and 20 percent to discretionary spending like groceries and restaurants (hint: this last category is where you should be cutting if you’re in debt!).

Reconsider that auto loan.

Multi-year car loans are a thing of a the past. Instead of buying or leasing a car, try Fair. They let you drive a car for as long as you want for an all-in monthly payment and cancel at any time, with no long-term commitment. Limited warranty, roadside assistance, and routine maintenance are included in the monthly fee, and you can do the whole process from your phone. Buh-bye, auto loan!

Start that side hustle you’ve been dreaming up.

Need some extra cash? Now’s the time to burn that midnight oil on your side gig. Or, if the startup costs are too high, there’s no shame in a part-time gig game. Your goal here is to get out of debt as fast as possible, so put in the work after-hours however makes sense for you!

Make your credit debt work for you.

Let’s talk dirty: Credit card debt is not ideal. But for many of us, it’s a reality. First things first: Call your card company and ask for lower rates on your cards while you pay them off. It doesn’t hurt to ask! If you’re not able to get a low enough interest rate, look into a balance transfer to a zero-interest card and make a “get out of debt” plan that allows you to pay off your card by the time the no-interest promotion ends.

Apply the debt ladder strategy.

If you’re in debt on more than one account, start by paying off the balance on the highest-interest rate account while paying the minimums on your other accounts. When that account is paid off, move on to the next-highest interest rate, and so forth. This method, while at odds with the debt snowball method of debt repayment, allows you to get out of debt while paying the least interest possible. Repeat it until all of your debts are paid off, and then…

Stick to your budget! The only way to stay out of debt is to plan to stay out of debt. So ditch that auto loan, call those credit card companies, and keep yourself in check. Happy planning!

This post is sponsored by Fair.