This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine.
Do you have financial debt? I used to. Between a credit card, car payment and student loans, I remember those overwhelming feelings. As soon as a paycheck came in, the majority of it was already gone, allocated towards my debt. Any time I bought something for me, I felt guilty because “that money should go towards the debt.” Sometimes my payments seemed to only go towards accrued interest and never seemed to chip away at that all-important principal. And I feared that I’d be paying off debt until age 40, meaning no family vacations, stressful holidays, no savings for our children — nothing.
I’m here to tell you that as I write these words, I am debt free, and you can be too! My husband and I now have an emergency fund, retirement accounts, investments and savings accounts for our children. We’ve even taken incredible vacations that include overseas travel! How did we do it? Read on to learn my tips, and check out these financial education tools.
7 Steps to Eliminate Debt
- Evaluate your debt. Look at everything you owe from credit cards, to student loans to car payments. Try a free online calculator to determine how long it will take to pay off your debt and whether consolidating debt makes sense for you.
- Evaluate your income. Take a look at how much you are bringing in and how much you can afford to pay off each month. Determine if you should pick up extra work for additional income and dedicate it solely to debt payoff. Then establish a household budget and stick to it.
- Reduce expenditures. Avoid making new charges to your credit card, determine if something is a want versus a need, save for future purchases versus impulsively buying, and carry spending cash versus always using a card. Ask yourself if you really need the newest toy, gadget, top-of-the-line model or brand-named item. Or is financial freedom what you truly want? Keep your eye on the prize.
- Use the snowball strategy to pay off debt . If you do not consolidate all your debt, start by paying off the smallest debt first, while maintaining minimum amounts due on all other debts. Once your smallest debt is eliminated, take the amount you were paying on it and use it for the next smallest debt and so on. For example, if you were paying $75 a month for a small debt, and you pay if off, take that $75 and now apply it the next debt, until all debts are eliminated.
- Start an emergency fund. If you don’t yet have a savings or money market account, create one and link it to your checking account. Set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking to your savings account, with a premise of “pay yourself first.” A solid goal is to start with $1,000 in savings for those “just in case” expenditures, so you don’t have to accrue more debt. A great way to start this account is with the extra income from your annual tax refund. Pay yourself first and then allocate the rest to your debt. The idea is to eventually borrow from yourself and pay back your savings account, instead of a lender, when your finances allow you to replenish.
- Re-evaluate credit cards. If you still want a credit card, look at transferring your balance to a card with a lower rate and one that will also offer you rewards.
- Enjoy a debt-free lifestyle. Once your debts are paid off, you’ll be amazed at how much extra money you have each month. But remember — don’t spend it all in one place! Pay yourself first with automatic transfers to savings, money markets, education accounts, retirement, investments, etc. Plan for your future and make that hard-earned money work for you!
Since 1933,Navy Federal Credit Union has strived to be the most preferred financial institution serving the military and their families. Navy Federal is member-owned and not-for-profit, and their aim is to act in the best interest of their members. Navy Federal Credit Union goes beyond simply safeguarding your money — they want to help you achieve your financial goals. Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender. Visit navyfederal.org for more information.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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