Picture it now (no, really, picture it): Instead of spending all your money on debt payments, you’re building up your savings and paying cash for vacations. No more using your paycheck to pay for the past—you’re enjoying the present and feeling prepared for the future.

Now, that sounds like a good life! And I’m here to tell you it’s not only possible— it’s inevitable if you follow the right plan.

Want to get out of debt? I’ve got 28 ways to help you make it happen. I’ll be real with you: It’s going to take some hard work and determination. But it’s totally worth it!

Best Way to Get Out of Debt: Start Here
Get Out of Debt Fast With the Debt Snowball
28 Tips for Getting Out of Debt Fast
Traps to Avoid When You’re Learning How to Get Out of Debt
Learn the Best Way to Get Out of Debt

Best Way to Get Out of Debt: Start Here

Before I jump into some practical tips to pay off your debt, there’s one thing you need to get right first—your mindset. Because here’s the truth: You behave like you believe. So if you don’t believe you can be debt-free, you won’t be. But if you choose to believe it, your behavior will reflect that belief!

You have to draw a line in the sand and decide that you’re done with debt. Matter of fact, go ahead and decide that right now. You can’t solve a problem while continuing to create it. I’m talking no more swiping that credit card or taking out personal loans for things you can’t pay cash for. Those habits have gotten you where you are now, and they won’t help you get out. If you want something different, you have to do something different.

Ooh, did I hit a nerve? For a lot of you, this will probably require a big lifestyle shift—and a big mindset shift. But if you really want to get out of debt, you’ve got to stop doing what you’ve always done and embrace the changes that will get you where you want to go.

Change your mindset. Change your money habits. Change your life.

I’ve been right where you are—in debt and desperate for a way out. But me and my husband, Sam, were able to pay off $460,000 of debt (yep, you read that right) only because we decided enough was enough. We were going to do whatever it took to get rid of our debt and get our lives back!

And guess what? You can do it too! Every day, I see folks who have gone from being crushed by a mountain of debt to standing on top of it, shouting in victory (literally).

So, what’s the plan that helped me—and millions of other people—go from financial frustration to freedom? Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. This proven plan gives you a clear path so you can save for emergencies, pay off debt, and start building wealth. With the Baby Steps, you’ll stop living paycheck to paycheck and start gaining confidence and control over your money and your future.

But before you can start paying off debt, you need a safety net (and no, I’m not talking about credit cards). Baby Step 1 is to save $1,000 for your starter emergency fund. After you’ve saved up that first $1,000, then it’s time to attack your debt.

Get Out of Debt Fast With the Debt Snowball

Okay, once you’ve got that $1,000 buffer between you and life’s little emergencies, it’s time to go all in on Baby Step 2: Pay off all your debt (except your house) using the debt snowball method.

Pay off debt fast and save more money with Financial Peace University.

What’s the debt snowball method? It’s the best (and fastest) way to pay off your debt—especially if you’re juggling multiple debts. Here’s how it works:

1. List all your debts from smallest to largest—regardless of interest rate.

2. Attack the smallest debt with a vengeance while making minimum payments on the rest of your debts.

3. Once you pay off the smallest debt, take that payment and apply it to your next-smallest debt.

4. Repeat this method until all your debts are gone!

The debt snowball works because it gives you quick wins and momentum to plow your way through the rest of your debt! And it usually only takes people between 18–24 months to pay it all off. (Two years? That’s a drop in the bucket! A couple years of intensity for decades of freedom? Worth it!)

28 Tips for Getting Out of Debt Fast

Now, in my case, it took around seven years for my husband and I to pay off our debt. So, of course, I picked up some tips during our own debt-free journey that I want to share with you. Use these debt-elimination tips to get the weight of those debt payments off your shoulders and out of your life for good!

1. Make a budget.

I’m putting this one at the top of the list because it’s that important. You can’t get out of debt without making a budget. Period.

A zero-based budget is the best way to make a plan for every dollar of your paycheck. And to be honest, a budget is like bloodwork—it reveals all. Your budget will show you where your problems lie. It will show you where you’re spending your money and (more importantly) where to cut back so you can throw more money at your debt snowball.

And listen, budgeting isn’t some punishment for being bad with money! Think of it as custom organization for your money. Budgets are bougie! Because not only does a budget give you the freedom to decide how you spend your money, but it also helps you find more money! Who wouldn’t want that?

Pro tip: The free EveryDollar budgeting app makes it super easy to create your budget and track your spending every single month. EveryDollar played a huge role in helping us pay off debt—and it can do the same for you!

2. Start your own business.

One of the biggest factors that helped Sam and I pay off our debt was increasing our income (which helped us increase our debt payments). We were already working as musicians, but that only brought in so much. So, we decided to start a talent agency that books other entertainers as a way to grow our core income.

Maybe you need to start your own business too. Do you have a knack for making things? Do you have a skill or trade that solves a problem or creates convience for others? Do your friends really like your baked goods? Find a way to use your talents and skills to fuel your debt payoff. And who knows—you might jump-start a new career!

3. Get a part-time job.

Not the entrepreneur type? Hey, that’s okay! Find a side hustle or two to earn some extra cash on the side. Become a driver for Lyft or Uber. Deliver pizzas. Walk dogs for Rover or Wag.  

Sam and I did everything from hosting jet ski tours to working at a vinyl tint and lettering garage when we were paying off debt. Whatever you decide, do something to get more money coming in every month so you can pay off your debt quicker—and celebrate sooner!

4. Sell the car.

Right now, the average monthly payment for a new car is $700.1 That’s a hot mess!

Think about how much faster you could get out of debt if you traded in your expensive ride for a used car you can actually afford. Then, you could throw that car payment at your debt snowball every month—instead of out the window. And later, when you’re debt-free, you can save up to buy your dream car in cash!

When Sam and I were getting out of debt, we went from being a two-car family to a one-car family. Sure it took a lot of extra coordination, but you’d be surprised how this really can help you kiss that car debt goodbye!

5. Cut up your credit cards.

I’m serious. I know some of y’all are going to think I’m crazy for this. But you’ll never get out of debt if you continue to create it each month! The credit card industry has tried for decades to convince us that we need a credit card (or five) to survive. They’re wrong. I’m here to tell you they’re playing you.

Even if your credit card feels like a safety net, it’s really just keeping you stuck in the cycle of debt. Plus, they steal your confidence to handle your money on your own, without the use of debt. Cut those jokers up (every last one) and never look back! I did exactly that, and let me tell you, I’ve never looked back.

6. Use the envelope system.

Did you know people tend to spend less when paying in cash over plastic?2 That’s because you actually feel your hard-earned money leaving your wallet—which can make you think twice before handing it over to the cashier.

So, pay with cash when you can and use the cash envelope system to organize your money and stick to your budget. When you’re trying to claw your way out of debt, this is the kind of habit that will hold you accountable and keep you on track.

7. Pause investing.

I didn’t stutter. Stop contributing to your retirement investments—and that includes your 401(k). Why? Because right now, you want all of your income to go toward paying off debt so you can get out of debt faster!

Don’t worry, it’s only temporary. You can start investing again once you’ve paid off your debt and saved up a fully funded emergency fund. By then, you’ll have enough money freed up that you can put even more of your income toward retirement!

8. Quit the comparison game.

A big reason people spend more than they should and go into debt in the first place is because they’re caught up in comparison. But you know who wins at the comparison game? No. One. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses! (Spoiler alert: They’re probably living a lifestyle they can’t afford.)

Maybe you need to get off social media for a season or put up some boundaries with family and friends. Whatever it takes to run your own race and keep your eyes focused on your goal. In 20 years, while everyone else still has car loans, mortgages and credit card bills, you’ll be glad you sacrificed when you did. This is the time to live like no one else so later you can live like no one else!

9. Tell the kids you’re on a budget.

Getting out of debt is a family effort. So, get everybody on board—including the kids! Teach your children about money so they understand what you do and don’t have room for in the budget. Talk to them about your vision of having a life without debt. You might be surprised by how much they want to chip in and help you reach your goal as a family.

10. Take Financial Peace University.

If you’re serious about ditching debt, you need a good game plan. And Financial Peace University (FPU) will give you that plan. You’ll learn all about the 7 Baby Steps I mentioned earlier, plus how to beat debt and build wealth that lasts.

The principles taught in this class changed my life, my marriage and my money for the better. And they can change yours too! Sign up now for an FPU class and take control of your money for good!

Ways to Get Out of Debt by Spending Less and Shopping Smart

11. Cut those coupons.

You’ve probably heard of couponing, but what if you actually tried it? Look for coupons in the newspaper or online (or use coupon apps) and buy things when they’re on sale. A little extra time and research on the front end can add up to a lot of savings—getting you out of debt even faster!

And remember, just because there’s a coupon for something, that doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Otherwise, you could end up spending money you wouldn’t have spent in the first place.

12. Try consignment shopping.

Kids grow out of clothes faster than you can get them to eat their vegetables. It’s not worth it to spend a lot on your two-year-old’s ever-changing wardrobe. Check out your local consignment stores that sell pre-loved outfits in good condition. Trust me, these kids will not know the difference. And if you’d rather shop online, sites like thredUP and Swap.com are great resources to get adult and children’s clothing—at a fraction of the cost.

13. Cut the cable.

Love watching TV but also want to save money? You could do like Sam and I did and buy an old school antenna or get a little more saavy with some cable alternatives. Then put that $100 cable bill toward your debt each month and watch just how quickly your debt snowball starts rolling.

14. Stop going out to eat.

I get it. Going to a restaurant hits different than making meals at home. But while you’re enjoying the freedom of not having to cook, you’re spending way more money by eating out than you would by eating in (and no, Grubhub doesn’t count as eating at home). Here’s an idea: Keep your cooking simple. And if it’s community you crave, invite friends over for taco night instead of meeting up at a restaurant.

15. Meal plan.

So, if you take restaurants off the table, how can you do this whole “we have food at home” thing without stressing out? You meal plan! A meal plan does for your food what a budget does for your money.

And listen, it doesn’t have to be this overwhelming chore that takes up your whole weekend. Just choose a couple of budget-friendly meals, try to use ingredients you already have, and decide which nights you’re cooking and which nights you’ll have leftovers. Easy peasy.

16. Break up with your barista.

If you don’t know where all your money’s going each month, you might have your favorite coffee shop to blame. Look, a certain coffee chain we all know and pretend to love is mad expensive and full of sugar anyway. Try brewing your own coffee at home. This minor adjustment to your morning routine can really add to your savings fast. America runs on . . . coffee made at home!

17. Visit the library.

Don’t sleep on libraries, you guys! You can check out any book, e-book or audiobook anytime for free. That means more savings to help you pay off your debt! Plus, the internet has made the benefits of libraries even better. Library apps like Libby, Hoopla and Project Gutenberg let you search, reserve and check out books without ever leaving the couch.

18. Make a grocery shopping list.

What’s one of the easiest ways to save money on groceries? Make a list. Whether you like to write down your grocery needs on a piece of paper or you prefer using a grocery list app like Mealime or AnyList, don’t walk through those automatic doors without a written plan of attack.

But here’s the thing about making a list: You have to stick to it. Especially if you’re shopping with kids. This is a great time to model the value of self control for those kiddos.

19. Try grocery shopping online.

Grocery shopping online versus in the store can definitely be more convenient. But it can also help you save money. Not only can you take advantage of “online only” deals and other perks, but you also avoid those impulse buys that looked yummy while you were browsing but aren’t actually necessary.

20. Avoid expensive hobbies.

If you’re paying off debt, you don’t have $200 a month to spend on golf or vintage bottles of wine to add to your collection. I know I’m hitting you where it hurts. But for now, put those pricey hobbies on hold and make paying off debt your hobby!

21. Ditch the gym membership.

Last I heard, you can still go for a run outside—for free. Gather some friends and start a running club. Or do some HIIT workouts on YouTube. You can get fit and healthy without spending much money . . . if any! And instead of using that savings to buy protein powder you never finish, put the money directly toward your debt-free goal!

22. Find free entertainment.

Going out to the movies, concerts, sports games, mini golf. All these activities are fun, but they can also jack up your budget. So, put a spending freeze on your entertainment costs for a little while. There are cheaper ways to entertain yourself—like playing board games, watching movies at home, and getting out in nature.

Other Creative Ideas to Get Out of Debt

23. Ask for a raise.

What do you have to lose? Like Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Learn how to ask for a raise (the right way) and then use that salary boost to boost your debt snowball payment!

24. Learn to say no (and not now).

Make these words a new part of your vocabulary. Love it. Embrace it. Because when it comes to spending money, you’ll need to say it quite often (usually to yourself). Learning how to say no or not now to buying stuff you don’t need is one of the smartest ways to keep your momentum as you pay off debt. It also helps you build confidence in your ability to do what you say you’re going to do with your money. If you say no now, you can say yes later.

25. Sell items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Dig through your kids’ rooms and search through the black hole of your closet to find things you can part with. Then sell your stuff online to make some quick cash. Y’all, I once sold my bath mats on Craigslist! I was shook—folks will buy anything for the right price. Or if you’d prefer to sell your stuff the old-fashioned way, host a garage sale.

26. Go on a spending freeze.

I’m talking scorched-earth status! Challenge yourself or your family with a no-spend month (aka a spending freeze) and see just how much you can save up in a short amount of time. Yeah, it’s hard—especially when you get an email about a sale at your favorite store. But it’s definitely doable!

27. Don’t forget to give.

Wait a minute—give? Yes! Giving is still important, even if you’re working on getting out of debt. It changes your attitude by taking the focus off you for a minute. So, make tithing and giving part of your monthly budget, no matter what your income is. And when you’re debt-free, you’ll be able to give like you never have before!

28. Find accountability.

Getting out of debt is hard, especially when you have to say no to friends, concerts and going out to eat. But you don’t have to do it alone!

You need someone in your corner who can hold you accountable and encourage you along the way. It could be your spouse, your best friend, a fellow church member, or even your neighbor. Whoever it is, be clear with them about your goals and ask them to call you out when you need it. When you’re debt-free, they’ll be celebrating right along with you!

Traps to Avoid When You’re Learning How to Get Out of Debt

Okay, now that you’ve got tips on how to get your debt snowball rolling, let’s talk about some things that could trip you up along the way. Here are a few traps to avoid as you baby step your way to debt freedom:

1. Debt Consolidation

You’ve probably heard of it. And maybe you’ve even fallen prey to it. But debt consolidation is a bad idea.

Combining your debts to get a lower interest rate might make you feel like you’ve done something to help your situation. But really, it’s only going to keep you in debt longer—because debt consolidation often means a longer repayment term.

The only form of debt consolidation I can get behind is for student loans. And that’s only if you consolidate your student loans the right way.

2. Credit Card Balance Transfers

Just like debt consolidation, credit card balance transfers will only offer you a temporary solution. You might think you’re taking control of your debt—when you’re really just moving it around. Don’t fool yourself: The only way to get out of debt is to pay it off once and for all.

3. Filing for Bankruptcy

When you don’t have enough money to pay the light bill or buy food, it’s beyond terrifying. But bankruptcy is rarely the answer. If you feel like bankruptcy is your only option, it’s time to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember there’s hope.

Bankruptcy should be your last resort. Before you go there, do everything you can to avoid it. If you’re feeling like you have no other choice, talk with a Ramsey Preferred Coach first. They can offer hope and walk you through all your options.

Learn the Best Way to Get Out of Debt

You can do all the tips I just mentioned to try to get out of debt. But without the right plan, it’s hard to make progress—and even harder to keep yourself from going back into debt later.

I mentioned it earlier, but it’s worth repeating: Financial Peace University (FPU) will teach you the proven plan to get out of debt and stay out of debt. FPU has helped millions of people take control of their money and go after their goals with confidence. And now it’s your turn. Find an FPU class that works for you!

I know the road to debt freedom can be tough. But I know it’s possible. If my husband and I could do it, I promise, you can too.

You can tell me you won’t do it—but please don’t tell me you can’t. 

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