Maybe you’re tired of dodging calls from creditors and holding your breath at the register in case this is the day your card finally gets rejected. You want to be debt-free and financially responsible, but where do you begin? Getting out of debt is not easy, but by making a few changes in your habits and attitude, it might not be as hard as you think either.

Stop Spending

If overspending is your problem, this could be your biggest challenge. If shopping is just a hobby, you might be able to find another activity to replace it; it could be a habit that you train yourself out of. Visiting thrift stores, going to yard sales or even window shopping might scratch that shopping itch. There are even apps that turn meeting your goals into a game. Above all, you need to find ways to reward yourself that don’t involve spending money. Of course, many people fall into debt for other reasons, but if you already budget responsibly, you are ahead of the game.

Simplify

Debt can leave you feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and avoiding paperwork until you don’t really even know how much you owe; that could end up being a lot. Although it may be scary, you need to take stock of all your debts and determine which ones are the most urgent. Write down everything that you owe.

If you have student loan debt from several lenders, you could consolidate. Rather than multiple interest rates and repayment terms, you would only have a single monthly payment. Do some research to find out what your consolidation options might be. You could also consider moving high-interest credit card debt onto lower-interest cards if a balance transfer is possible. Another possibility is taking out a personal loan with a lower interest rate that allows you to pay off several debts. You may also want to consider contacting your creditors and seeing if you can work out a payment plan that gives you a little more breathing room.

Start With Emergency Savings

If you don’t have any savings built up, this should be your first step even before you start to seriously attack your debt. Debt often occurs as a result of spiraling costs that happen because you do not have a savings cushion. Start by making minimum payments on all your debts while you save up three to six months of expenses. Once you have a cushion, you can turn your focus to paying down debt.

Choose Your Method

You can either focus on making payments somewhat higher than the minimum on all your debts, or you can make just the minimum payments on all your debts except for one, which you direct most of your financial resources toward. Once that is paid off, you would then focus on another debt until you are debt-free. If you use this approach, paying off the one with the highest interest rate might be the smartest move, but paying off the smallest debt could give you the biggest psychological boost. The best method is the one that keeps you motivated you to stick to it.

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