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5 Ways to Get Out of Debt

5 Ways to Start Digging Out of Debt
Ready to be debt-free? Here are five ways to get started.

Set a budget for your weekly expenses, such as groceries and toiletries, and withdraw that amount of cash from the bank each week. Then spend only what you have in hand. “If you don’t have the cash, you don’t buy it,” says Stephanie Smith, a psychologist in Denver, Colo., who specializes in debt counseling. “We’ve become so accustomed to credit cards, we’ve lost all perspective of what cash can buy and of what we can and cannot afford.”

Drive a wedge between looking and buying. To help curb impulse shopping, make a list of things you want to buy, then wait, says Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a Stanford University health psychologist. The act of putting the item on a list gives you the warm fuzzies that come with the promise of reward, she says. “But, two weeks later, youíll be amazed at how much has fallen off the list because youíre no longer under the spell of the productís advertisement or fantasy.”

Reduce your wants. Think of emails and catalogs from retailers as “want generators,” says McGonigal. Contact these companies and ask to be removed from their mailing lists, or subscribe to a service that will do it for you, such as GreenDimes.com. Toss unsolicited coupons directly into the recycling bin. “When you are trying to save money, nothing excites the brain more than the idea that you are getting a bargain,” she says. “But, obviously, you’re not saving money if youíre spending it — even if it sounds like a deal.”

Don’t ignore debt. People don’t realize that the seed of the stress response is rooted in the unknown, says McGonigal. So trying to keep stress at bay by not opening the bills or balancing the checkbook is bound to fail. “Your mind will keep trying to solve this problem, and the less information it has, the more itís going to worry,” she says. “That puts you in a never-ending stress response and takes a huge toll on your health.”

Establish a pay-off plan. Having a clear strategy for paying your debts each month and knowing when you’ll be debt-free is great for peace of mind — and motivation. For tools you can use to start your own step-by-step payback plan, see the “Pay It DownWeb Extra! at ExperienceLife.com.

Related:
5 Ways to Change Your Relationship With Money
Create Financial Independence
Think Like Grandma and Save Money

Read more: Conservation, Health, Life, Money, Self-Help

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

174 comments

+ add your own
10:47AM PDT on May 11, 2012

thanks

2:57AM PDT on May 10, 2012

So many people, myself included, buy stuff or experiences to make us happier. Unfortunately this only works for a while. Dealing with the pain and emptiness is the only way around it.

6:42PM PDT on May 7, 2012

thanks for share

9:08PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

thanks for the tips...

2:02PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Thanks for the article, very interesting!

1:46PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

I'm still a bit confused. Since NO savings account of any sort will pay even a tenth in interest what I'm being charged, why should I try saving money that's earmarked for bills? And EVERY extra cent is going towards that.
I'd rather not have debt, but married a man who, every time his mom sneezes, calls for an immediate plane ticket. That's how you end up with debts that total 3/4 of his annual paycheck. I went to work for a while, but realized it was costing us more than I made between buying uniforms, washing uniforms, paying for the gas to get to work and taking away time to do everything else in the house.
And how should I deal with the fact that every time I seem to be gaining speed in paying off all our debts, some other catastrophe that ends up being expensive comes up? Like truck repairs, broken HVAC units, frig going out, etc.
Not seeing it. At least I'm not behind, there's always that.

9:46AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Thank you

7:29AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

it's overwhelming to read this for me but I think if I concentrate on one thing that I have NEVER done it would be the weekly expenditure budget with cash that would really force me to not over spend! Hmmmmm, I think I can do this!

6:09AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Credit cards should ONLY be used for real emergencies

3:09AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

The biggest cause of uncontrollable debt is credit companies lending the money and then piling on the interest at exhorbitant rates. And, society making so many things like internet, cars and mobile phones into necessities for those who want to live in the modern mainstream.

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