Living in debt can be very stressful. You have to make sacrifices to meet your debt obligations or face serious consequences like getting a bad credit rating, losing an asset, taking up more debt, etc. It gets worse when you live in a country like the UK where the standard of living keeps rising yet wages have stagnated forcing most people into debt. The current debt situation in the UK is alarming given the fact that the number of insolvent individuals (young people between 18 and 34 years) has increased drastically by 31% over the past year alone according to the Insolvency Service. Debt is apparently a problem so how do you get out of debt, especially short-term debt?
It doesn’t matter if you have payday loan debt or credit card debt. The tips/steps discussed below should work for all (if not most) types of short-term debt.
1. List all your debt
Debt repayment becomes a problem when you have more than one loan so, start by listing all the short-term debt you have from the largest to the smallest. It may seem obvious, but most people can’t tell you how many short term loans they service every month. This is understandable considering you can take multiple credit cards today, a payday loan, overdraft, small personal loan all at the same time. To ensure you don’t leave anything out, look for your monthly income statements and follow all deductions to ensure you don’t miss anything. The listing should include all important information, i.e., loan amount, interest amount, etc.
2. Identify the most expensive debt
After listing all your debt, you will be able to identify the most expensive debt. You should prioritise repayment from the most to the least expensive. Most people do the opposite for psychological reasons, but this shouldn’t be the case. The cost of the debt should be your utmost concern if you want to repay the debt fast and effectively.
3. Pay more than minimum
Once you have a clear picture of the debt you have, it’s time to start making repayments. To repay your debt in the fastest way possible, you must make sacrifices and pay more than the minimum payments every month. Besides repaying your debt in the shortest time possible, you will also save money on interest repayments. However, find out if you are liable to any prepayment penalties or charges before you get started. Some lenders discourage early repayment, so it’s important to find out where each lender stands.
4. Consider stopping your monthly savings/investment
To pay more than minimum every month, you need more money. For short term debt, it may not be practical to make lifestyle changes. Furthermore, these changes may not have a significant impact. You can stop your monthly savings/investment every month and channel this money to debt repayment. This option is great because it is easily accessible and doesn’t attract penalties. Furthermore, there is no need to continue saving when you have expensive short-term debt. Savings should resume after you have cleared such debt.
If you have a substantial amount of expensive debt that can’t be covered effectively by your monthly savings, you can consider options like debt consolidation. This option allows you to merge all your debt into one debt making it more manageable and cheaper. There are however shortfalls to consolidating debt. For instance, you need to be very disciplined since this debt repayment method works only when you meet your repayment obligations to the letter. It may also be a bit expensive when paying up debt in a short time.
NB: Although the above information is bound to help you clear your short-term debt in the fastest and most cost-effective way, it is worth noting that there are exceptions. For instance, it might not be prudent to settle the most expensive debt first because of penalties that may be charged for early repayment. Furthermore, you need to decide what is more important to you, i.e., settling the debt in the fastest way possible or settling all your debt regardless of how long it takes.
Lastly, you need to make some critical financial decisions going forward to avoid finding yourself in the same situation. For instance, you need to prepare and stick to your budget and avoid spending habits that cause you to borrow excessively. You should also seek professional help if you feel you can’t make significant progress on your own.