(ARA) – Jan. 1 arrives every year with the hope and promise of losing pounds, improving relationships and paying off those bills from the holiday spending season.
Unfortunately, at some point most every American has made a New Year’s resolution only to have that new gym membership go unused, the scale ignored and credit card debt continue to pile up. But according to New York Times best-selling author and personal finance coach David Bach, getting out of debt this year can actually be fairly simple.
“Getting out of debt is a pretty straightforward process,” says Bach, whose latest book, Debt Free for Life: The Finish Rich Plan for Financial Freedom, outlines a plan for getting out of debt. “The issue people have is getting started – the average American family is carrying roughly $49,000 worth of consumer and mortgage debt and that can be daunting.”
To overcome the fear of getting started Bach recommends changing your frame of mind when it comes to paying off debt – don’t focus on what you’re giving up, but rather think about what debt is holding you back from – family vacations, buying a new home, or even starting your own business. Focusing on what living debt-free will enable to you to do helps keep you focused and motivated.
Bach recommends by starting the process with an honest self-assessment, asking questions like “Why are you in debt?” “How much debt do you have?” and most importantly “Why do you want to be debt-free for life?”
“Being honest about your debt, for a lot of people, means overcoming a major obstacle-getting started,” he says. “The sooner you get honest with yourself about your debt, the better positioned you’ll be to start taking real action to get out of debt.”
After you’ve answered those questions, the next step is to stop spending on non-essentials.
Bach’s “latte factor” is an example of how eliminating a store-bought cup of coffee can quickly add up and be applied to paying off your debt. Beyond cutting spending, Bach suggests taking a methodical approach to eliminating debt by charting your debts and determining your “done on last payment” date, or DOLP, for each account. Factoring in the interest rate and pay off amount you can easily determine which debts to pay off first in order to maximize your savings on interest.
“If you’re still overwhelmed by charting out a debt repayment plan then try an automated system,” says Bach. “I personally like Debt Wise from credit reporting agency Equifax – they use the information they already have from your credit card companies and other lenders to automatically prioritize your debts into a personalized plan that will help you save money in interest and get out of debt faster. The tool even updates you as you make progress on your plan.” For more information about Debt Wise, go to www.debtwise.com.