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How to dig yourself out of debt

By Kemberley Washington ·
Friday, February 7, 2014
Posted: 2 pm ET

Sometimes our debts can be overwhelming. Because of this, we simply ignore our debt, hoping it will miraculously disappear.

But only when we prepare a plan of action are we able to truly dig ourselves out of debt. So where do we begin?

Take inventory

If you find yourself in a deep hole of debt, it is a good idea to take inventory.

First, determine what you have that could be used to eliminate or reduce your debt. Create a list of assets that could be sold -- such as computers, paintings or books -- or identify savings accounts or money market accounts you could tap to help eliminate your debt.

Next, think of ways to bring in more income -- such as providing services or getting a part-time job -- that will help reduce your debt.

List every creditor you owe

While you may not feel comfortable writing out a roll call of each and every creditor you owe, it is extremely beneficial. You will create a better plan if you understand who has money coming from you, and how much they are owed.

List your debts from those with the highest interest rate to those with the lowest, making a plan to eliminate higher-cost debt first. Paying debt this way could ultimately save you money, since reducing a balance with a higher interest rate will also reduce the amount of financing charges you incur.

Create a plan of action

To get out of debt, it takes more than just putting numbers on paper: It takes a plan. Consider planning for short periods at a time, because a plan that extends for years can be overwhelming.

A series of shorter plans also allows you to celebrate small victories, which gives you the encouragement to continue on your path to ultimate success.

Remember, there is power to putting our goals on paper. After you have written your plan, identify steps you can take to make your debt disappear.

Lastly, stay focused. If paying off your debts is a priority, place all your power and might behind that goal until it comes to pass.

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and a professor at Dillard University in New Orleans. She writes a personal finance blog, She has authored an e-book, "Let Your Budget Inspire You!"  Follow her on Twitter or connect with her Facebook.

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1 Comment
wayne williams
February 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm