Debt is one of the biggest challenges facing American families right now. Overall U.S. household debt has increased by 11 percent over the last decade, and shows no signs of slowing down. At the end of last year, the average household with credit card debt owed more than $16,000 and the average household with any kind of debt owed more than $130,000, including mortgages. These numbers are scary, and having debt can be a constant weight on your mind. But one couple used 15 simple steps to get themselves out of $80,000 in debt in just a year and a half. Here’s how they did it.
First, many of the steps they followed were simple. The couple made a specific commitment to saving and wrote out a detailed budget. “Write down your goal and how much you want to pay off by a certain deadline,” writer Anna Runyon shared on the blog Classy Career Girl. “Make sure you make it a reasonable goal and tell your friends and family about your goal. When you can’t go out to dinner with them, you don’t want them pressuring you! You need their support to make this happen.”
Runyon also stressed the importance of streamlining and organizing your finances. Using a budgeting tool such as Mint.com can be very helpful for organizing all of your spending in one place. There are a ton of apps to get your finances in order, some more involved than others, but all easy to use and ultimately effective if you commit to using one.
Another huge tip? Sell things you don’t need. Sell them all. Runyon and her husband used sites such as eBay and half.com to sell everything from unused wedding gifts to old textbooks. “You might not think you can make much money from selling small dollar items but trust me, it adds up quickly! I even sold clothes on eBay that I never wore anymore,” Runyon wrote.
Over 18 long months, the couple pared down expense after expense, often getting creative when it came to their living situation and transportation. But ultimately, they paid down all their debt—and you can too.