Debt can easily turn into a massive money problem — a problem millions of Americans struggle with. More than 80% of Americans consumers consider debt a financial priority. Debt can affect anyone, but there’s one age group that faces the biggest debt burden.
A survey by LightStream found Gen Xers — those born between 1965 and 1979 — have accumulated the most debt. And as they head into what should be their highest earning years, they’re not feeling very optimistic of their ability to rid themselves of debt: 22% say they don’t see a way out.
While eliminating debt takes effort, patience and sometimes years of dedication, it certainly shouldn’t be viewed as impossible, say experts. Here are some quick tips to turn your debt around.
1. Take action
A person can wander into debt, but they can’t simply wander out, said financial author Dave Ramsey. You must become fed up enough with your situation that you decide to change.
Ramsey describes personal finance as “80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.” He said you need to start by getting to a point where you are mad enough to take action.
2. Cut back on credit cards
Break the credit card habit. If you want to get out of debt, you should work to stop accumulating more. Credit cards are only a convenience, says Michael Gerstman, CEO of Gerstman Financial Group.
“If you must use a credit card, then it needs to be treated like a debit card with all new purchases paid off weekly,” said Gerstman.
But the best way to cut out credit is by ditching it altogether. Here are some easy tips on going cash-only.
3. Track your expenses
At the beginning of each month, take five minutes to write down everything you are earning and spending, said Ramsey. In addition, go through all your credit card and bank statements to weed out unnecessary spending.
“This may sound difficult, but many people don’t realize how much they’re spending on things like cable television, landline phones, and coffee drinks,” says Marc Diana, CEO on MoneyTips.
Staying on top of your tracking will put you in control of how much you have left. Keeping a tight budget can help you pull in spending and understand where your money is going.
Here’s an easy budgeting spreadsheet to get you started.
4. Adopt a positive mindset
The human mind can be a very powerful thing, said Tiffany Welka, the vice president of VFG Associates. Having the positive mindset that you can tackle your debt often translates to real-life financial success.
“Cultivating a growth mindset will improve your ability to succeed in all areas of your life, not just your financial world,” she said.
Looking for more ways to get out of debt? Here are 9 ways to pay it off in 30 days (or less).