It doesn’t matter how you got here. What matters, is what you do to reduce and pay off your debt. Having debt may be allowing you to live in a house, commute to work in a car, invest in a business, or manage medical bills. Maybe debt has allowed you to keep up with a lifestyle you’re not quite able to keep up anymore. Regardless of the kind of debt, paying it off can be grueling. You can make payment after payment, but still feel like you’re not creating a dent. We’re here to tell you, you can pay off your debt. Here are 5 steps to pay off your debt, with practical tips on how you can pay debt off faster.

How to Pay off Debt: 5 Steps for Paying Off Debt Fast

Below are 5 steps to take when figuring out how to pay off debt faster than what you’re doing now. This guide will share several different steps you can take to pay off debt, but remember to keep the plates spinning. No matter your debt payoff strategy or what financial moves you set in motion, continue to make your minimum payments. Having too much debt can feel like your head is falling below the water, but you can keep treading as you swim to shore.

1. Consider all your debt payoff options

Before taking any major financial action, do your research on what’s out there. There’s no one right way to pay off debt, as long as you make progress. Four of the most popular ways people pay off debt include:

  • Make major budget adjustments: Instead of shuffling between a bunch of financial and lifestyle priorities, some people opt to get laser-focused on one or two debts they want to pay off fast.
  • Balance transfer high-interest debt: Some people can save money on interest by transferring a high-interest credit card balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate.
  • Consolidate or refinance debt to a lower interest rate: Instead of transferring a balance from one credit card to another, some people opt to consolidate several debts using a personal loan with a lower interest rate than their combined interest rates.
  • Change their debt payoff strategy: Instead of making a major financial move, some people opt to simply adopt or change their debt payoff strategy. Two of the most popular debt payoff strategies include the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods. Snowballing your debt means that you pay off your lowest debt balance first, then your second largest, until you finally tackle your highest balance. The debt snowball method helps you psychologically reward yourself for paying off debt. Avalanching your debt means paying off your debts from the highest to lowest interest rate. The debt avalanche method can help you save money over time, but it may not give you those motivational early wins in your debt payoff plan.

Learn more in our guide on How to Pay Off Debt Using the Debt Avalanche Method

2. Take small steps that can lead to major debt payoff

While you’re researching your options, there are seemingly tiny lifestyle changes you can make to help you pay more toward your debt. These are everyday DIY tactics that could potentially save you money that you can use to pay off debt faster:

  • Make the room in your budget: If you’re not paying as much toward your debt as you want to, make sure you’re budgeting out more money to make that happen. If your budget is tight and you’re making tough decisions about where to put your money, focus on cutting back any extra spending you can and contribute that toward your debt.
  • Cut back spending: Whether money is tight or you’re just hoping to pay off debt faster, everyone could probably benefit from cutting back on some extra spending. Some people take it to the extreme by cutting back all extra spending to only the bare bones essentials. You know yourself best, but if you can cut back expenses and pay more toward your debt… do it!
  • Contact your creditors and ask for lower rates or other options: Calling your creditors for a rate reduction is a long shot, but sometimes you can secure a lower interest rate, which means a lower payment… which means you can pay more money toward your debt priorities.
  • Use windfalls to your advantage: If you earn credit card cash back, tax refunds or product rebates, use that extra cash toward your debt payoff goals.

Read More: 4 Steps to a Debt Reduction Plan

Ways to Manage Your Debt

3. Understand the ins and outs of your debts

Take some time to know the details about your debt accounts. You know the basics, but many creditors have different policies for fees, payoffs, and payment types. Before you go any further on your debt payoff journey, know the answers to questions like:

  • Can I prepay without fees or penalties?
  • How are normal payments applied, how are additional payments applied?
  • Is my debt secured or unsecured—what are the risks to not paying off my debt?
  • What are the fees associated with balance transfers or payoffs?
  • If I take out a new loan, what will my new monthly payment be and how much will it cost to borrow the money?

It seems obvious, but being on top of your creditors’ policies will help you make better informed decisions, and potentially avoid fees.

4. Make a major financial move to pay off debt

So no amount of informing yourself or cutting out extra spending is helping. If you’re frustrated by your finances or feel like you’re not paying off debt fast enough, maybe it’s time to consider making a life change. We’re not talking about cutting out a $5 cup of coffee here and there. We’re talking about major financial moves that transform your finances to help you pay off debt faster, like:

  • Move to a home that costs significantly less
  • Switch to a higher-paying job or pick up a side hustle
  • Revert to your bare bones ‘emergency’ budget by cutting out all spending except the absolute essentials (not for the faint of heart)
  • Reduce your expenses by consolidating your debt, refinancing your mortgage or selling your car for a less expensive one

We recommend doing a lot of research and math before taking any of the steps above since they have lasting impacts on your financial situation. If you are serious about making leaps in your debt payoff journey, they could help you pay off debt in a big way.

5. Take A Debt Mental Health Day (AKA: Improve your relationship with your money)

Okay, so you rolled your eyes at the idea of a ‘Debt Mental Health Day.’ We get it; the concept is corny. But for a lot of us with debt, we have a bad relationship with money. Taking a Debt Mental Health Day means scheduling time to examine your relationship with money. Do you have strong emotions related to your financial situation? Have you been able to come to terms with that one credit card balance or medical debt? It’s okay to feel angry or ashamed about your debt. Dealing with those emotions can help you be in a better position to pay it off faster.

Recap: How to Pay Off Debt

Not every single tactic listed above is going to help you. If you can find a few ways to slash your debt even just a little faster than what you’re doing now, it’s a win. Here’s to you for taking strides to improve your finances and pay off debt, even when it’s hard, or stressful and you don’t have all the answers. There’s an end to your debt in sight. You’ve got this.

Read More: How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

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