Jerry Jones CPA
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“For more than 30 years I have relied on Jerry to provide me with critical guidance for both investment decisions and tax strategies. His opinions have been crucial in helping me make the best possible business decisions, as well as providing me with sound advice regarding personal tax planning”.
Steve T., Taxpayer

debt free Jerry JonesHow to Get Out of Debt: A Step-by-Step Guide to Financial Freedom

To get out of debt, you need a plan, and you need to execute that plan. But that can be easier said than done. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the steps you need to take. And it’s also easy to lose motivation if you don’t realize how much progress you’ve already made.

You’ll need to make all necessary adjustments to your budget along the way so you don’t overspend and slide back into debt. Plus, if you don’t have an emergency fund, consider setting some money aside in savings before you get started on your plan.

To help you get started — and then stay on track — we’ve created this simple get-out-of-debt checklist. Keep it someplace where you’ll see it often, and make it your goal to check a task off the list each day (or each week), depending on how quickly you want to become debt-free.

Get Prepared to Get Out of Debt

If you want to do this right, you want to make sure that you know where you stand before you start. You need to have a complete picture. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Gather your most recent statements for all loans and credit cards.
  • Get your free annual credit reports to check them for accuracy and to identify all debts.
  • Get your free credit score at Credit.com to find out whether you can lower your rates.
  • Check the National Student Data System to gather all student loan information.

Make A List

Having everything written out in front of you is really the key to success here. Plus, once you’ve written it all out, and it’s right there in black and white, it may not seem as insurmountable as it did before.

  • Make a list of all your debts: name of creditor, interest rate, balance, minimum monthly payment.
  • Also list the three-year payment for each debt, as found on credit card statements.
  • Remember to include loans not listed on your credit reports (e.g. family loans, medical bills).

Lower Your Rates

Paying high interest rates on existing debt causes your debt to really mount up, and makes paying it off much more difficult. If possible, you want to lower those interest rates. Here’s what to do:

  • Based on your credit, you may qualify for much better interest rates on credit cards.
  • Open a free account with Credit.com and see what kind of low rate balance transfer credit cards you can get.
  • Check out student loan consolidation and Income-based Repayment at StudentLoans.gov.
  • Call your card issuers to ask for lower rates on credit card balances.
  • Consider a consolidation loan and/or balance transfers to pay off high-rate credit cards.
  • Find out if you can refinance a high-rate auto loan.

Get Your Number

Once you know what your total payoff number is, you’ll have a real, complete goal to work towards.

  • Total the three-year pay-off amount for all your credit cards.
  • Add the monthly payments for all other debts.
  • Write down the result: Your Total Monthly Payment.

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