How to Pay off Debt Quickly on a Low Income

When I think of debt it personally makes me want to cry. 

I don’t know about you but at one point in time, my debt ranging from credit cards to student loans was literally half of my monthly income. And that was only what I was paying monthly.

YIKES!!!

I’m not about that life.

You Have a Choice

To provide the most positive financial future for you or your family.

Or

To just remain complacent in being in debt because that’s normal.

If you choose the first choice, then yes you can pay off your debt you just have to find a way.

If you don’t, ask yourself what does your financial future look like? More debt? Constant financial hardship? Lack of opportunity?

If I can be honest the real problem here isn’t how much debt you have or how low your income is. It’s you!

Once you make the choice to do something you are passionate about NO ONE or nothing can stop you.

So although we are still in debt we refuse to continue to dig ourselves into an even deeper hole. We are committed to getting our debt paid off as fast as possible with using the income we have.

If you have read some of my other posts you may know that we are currently living on one income so it’s safe to say our money is tight.

So that is why I want to share with you….

How to Pay Off Debt Quickly on a Low Income

No, it’s not impossible even though it seems like it.

I don’t know how many times I have listened to Dave Ramsey and heard families doing their debt-free scream and I literally just want to scream.

No not in a good way, maybe it’s because I deeply envy them or maybe because I can’t do as much as I want because of debt.

You know what as I type this I am fully convinced that debt should be banned, what do you think? (you can let me know in the comments?)

But let’s get started!

1. Do a Financial Reality Check

The first step to getting out of debt is to get real about your financial situation.

You need to understand what got you into debt in the first place.

Do you have credit cards that you have that you consistently use as your go to when you can’t afford something?

Maybe it’s that you can’t say no to a night out with friends?

Or, maybe you are the parent that has to go all out for your kid’s birthday parties, knowing you really can’t afford to. I’m most definitely guilty of that.

Whatever it is it’s important to pinpoint when things start to go wrong. Although it really doesn’t seem wrong.

If you don’t have the cash for it then you can’t afford it. so pulling out the credit card is WRONG!

I don’t say this in a negative way but many of us just weren’t raised to manage money properly.

You were mostly raised with entitled beliefs that anyone who earned a college degree could make enough money to get married, buy a home, have kids, and live a comfortable life.

If it could only be so simple.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality as long as you are paying hundreds in debt every month.

Ask yourself this… Do you like what you see when you look at your current financial situation? Is this the life you dreamed of?

If you answered no, then I hope this serves as your reality check.

If it seems hard to make ends meet, that’s because it is, and it’s time for a change.

Reflecting on these things isn’t to cause you stress, it’s simply to help you better prepare for YOUR future.

If you want to understand some of the bad habits costing you money then check out this post.

2. Make a Specific Written Goal

If your goal is to get out of debt write it down.

If you really want it to work write it down and make it visible for all to see, that way you will have the accountability of all your family and friends.

Need help writing a goal check out How to set financial goals.

3. Learn to Budget the Right and Effective Way

In order to get out of debt, you have to budget.

I know you may be thinking or saying “well I already budget.”

And that you may. But unfortunately, you’re budget is ineffective. So it’s time for a new and improved budget.

Budgeting is one of those things where you have to be consistent or it will never work. For most of my clients, once they see the results of a budget that actually works, it is easy to remain consistent because they enjoy to seeing the consistent growth of their savings and/or debt decreasing.

And sometimes if you already budget, sometimes you don’t have to make huge changes, but it’s the subtle changes that make all the difference such as budgeting weekly versus monthly.

You can find everything you need to know to do it yourself in the links below.

More Resources to Make your Budget:

4. Change Your Spending Habits

When I decided to become totally healthy. From what I ate, to my finances, to what I decided to pour into my mind it was one of the toughest things I’d ever done.

Why?

Because it meant changing my lifestyle.

Changing your lifestyle doesn’t always seem so appealing, especially when it comes to things you love doing.

“I love binging on desserts while watching trash tv.”

Question is how is that adding value to my life?

It’s not!

So you have to look at your money the same way. Ask yourself “Am I handling my finances in a way that it adds value to my life?”

Your spending habits run deep and they usually reflect your upbringing. So sometimes it’s not as simple as just not going to the store.

First, you need to pinpoint what kind of spending habit you have. So spend some time journaling everything that you spend money on and maybe even the emotions you are feeling. Emotions often trigger things like some people eat when they are stressed.

To help you out check out these two articles bad habits costing you money and 10 ways to stop spending money you don’t have.

One of the easiest ways to get into debt and to continue in it is by not understanding where your money goes.

Understanding the basic principle of income in and expenses out is important. You will easily be able to notice and feel the effects of that if you spend more than you make.

5. Save Money!

This is the hard part.

You already have a low income and now I’m telling you, you need to save.

This is a good time to remind yourself why you want to get out of debt. Your reason why will be your constant motivation.

If you are serious about getting out of debt, then your actions are going to have to reflect that.

But don’t go overboard. It’s easy to put yourself and your family in a miserable situation while trying to do something good.

So don’t drive everyone crazy by trying to eat off of $20 a week and you have a family of four. Try to just eliminate fast food and going out to eat and start cooking at home.

Then once you have got that routine down try to eliminate unnecessary groceries, like those cookies you seem to just have to have or those chips.

If you want to make things fun try a no spend challenge. It’s a sure way to be creative, save money, and have fun all at the same time.

Wants vs Needs

You’re going to have to get serious about distinguishing your wants from your needs.

My family and I have a motto when it comes to spending, “Everything wanted is needed.”

So if you don’t need it you shouldn’t have to have it.

I have never been the one to take the extremist approach to anything, so I’m not going to tell you to do it either.

But some believe that while you are getting out of debt you don’t buy anything and I mean nothin’.

Nah, you got the wrong one, because I’m not doing that!

I like to look nice and my hair needs to be done. So that means clothes and shoes will NEVER be an option.

Now do I go and splurge, absolutely NOT! But I do look for good deals on clothing for my family.

Some will argue you will be out of debt faster if you buy nothing, yes that’s true and I will probably be insane and divorced also.

So to each their own.

I believe 100% that you can change WITHOUT a complete elimination of self.

Any change is going to be hard, but it’s well worth it.

6. When Saving Isn’t enough, Earn Extra Cash

I know you were probably thinking if I already have low income how in the world am I supposed to save and pay off debt, let alone FAST?

No there’s no magic behind it.

Everyone is always looking to save more money, but saving isn’t always enough especially when you really have nothing to save.

Truth is you will HAVE to find a way to earn more income. And if I can be real, I think you’ll agree that living on a low-income long term isn’t what’s happening.

There are limitless opportunities and possibilities for earning more if you’re willing to work hard and be creative.

“Poor is a state of mind. Broke is, I’m just passing through.” – Dave Ramsey

One of my favorite quotes because it’s so true. Many people are poor because they have the mentality of this is all I can make so I have to just make ends meet with what I have.

No! It’s a choice to barely make ends meet and do nothing to improve your situation. When you broke it’s only temporary because I’m going to do better.

Here are some resources to help you earn extra cash:

7. Put together a Debt Plan

Make sure you know how much debt you have and how much you can afford to pay.

This is why it is so important to have a budget in place so you understand how much you can apply towards debt.

Now you can make a plan of attack.

People typically have one of two ways in which they attack their debt.

The first one is by balance. People who want to see quick progress usually choose this one because it allows you to pay off the smaller balances first. This seems to motivate people who like to see they are no longer paying a specific debt and can quickly push that money onto another debt.

Second is by interest. This will allow you to save money in the long run although it will take longer to pay off your debt. Paying off the higher interest rates will allow you to optimize your payments as much as possible.

With a plan in place and knowing how much you will be able to put towards the debt, now all you have to do is make the payments.

7. Don’t Create More Debt

Do you know at one point in time I had paid off all my credit card debt, to only get tempted and mess things up all over again?

Crazy thing is, this time I was in more debt than last time.

Once your credit cards are paid off, I would close all but one.

8. Stay Motivated and Inspired to Pay Off Your Debt Fast

You may have begun this post with a lot of doubt but I hope you have been able to build up faith in yourself that you can, in fact, DO IT!

Believe in yourself and your God-given abilities. You now know that you HAVE to make a change.

If you have a hard time staying motivated, find an accountability partner who also needs to pay off their debt. Create challenges together to keep it fun and engaging before you know it you will be doing your debt free scream!!

Understand Nothing is Perfect

Paying off debt is similar to dieting. You need to stay consistent with how you are eating and exercising but there can be a time where you fall short.

That’s ok.

How you handle your shortcomings is important. Some people give up and go back to how they were and other get up dust their shoulders off and continue on like nothing has ever happened.

Whatever you do DON’T GIVE UP!

Ecclesiastes 9:11 “The race is not given to the swift nor to the strong, but to those that endureth to the end.”

So endure!!!

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