Paying off your debt is something that sounds very straightforward, but I know from personal experience it’s not.

Debt after all, is simply money that you’ve borrowed in one way or another, and have to pay back. Unfortunately, debt can be a shapeshifting boogeyman rather than a simple "IOU" as it was in Medieval times.

It’s an uphill, psychological slugfest trying to pay off your debt. There are some people out there who do manage to avoid debt entirely, or are extremely disciplined and don’t stay in debt for long. But let's be honest, they’re unicorns.

Even the people with no credit card debt, student loan debt, or car payments will forget that they live in a house of which they are indebted to the bank for small sums like £200,000.

Personally, it’s taken me years to get into a debt-free position. I’ve come close on several occasions but either I got complacent or selfish and wanted to hoard all my money like a greedy goblin.

Attacking the debt

The single most important tactic you can use against debt is to attack.

We are weak-natured, fragile creatures, and when some money is dangled before us, we become emotionally attached. Learning to reject our Magpie-like desire for shiny things can be hard. But overcoming these instincts is well worth the effort.

Always keep in mind that unless you get intentional about paying off your debt and start setting goals, it will hang there like a patient noose around your wallet. No one with debt becomes debt free by accident. Fact.  

Becoming intentional with your debt

Becoming intentional with paying off debt and not just ignoring it is super necessary. I want to tell you briefly about my own experience with debt and how I went about becoming debt-free.

My debt, which was mainly a large student overdraft and a hefty credit card balance, was something that I’d just become used to having. Everywhere I would go, it would just follow me around like a shadow. Occasionally I would chip a little bit off here and there, but unsurprisingly the debt stayed with me. I didn’t have a plan. Just like Trump with the Coronavirus, my irrational thoughts were that eventually it would just kind of take care of itself and go away. It didn’t.

It was only recently that I sat down and decided I was going to proactively get rid of my debt. It was a simple plan… pay off all my debt. That was my goal. So I wrote down what my debts were and how much they were. The next step was to try and work out how much I could budget to pay towards it each week or month. Then the most important step, I started paying it with a ferocious tenacity.

There is no formula for this, but I often find that when I get intentional about something, I get unexpected help along the way. I realised it would take me a while to pay off the debt I owed but I set about trying to get rid of it as quick as possible. Any time I got a bit of extra cash, I would throw it straight towards paying the debt.

What ended up happening is that I had the debt paid off far quicker than I ever thought possible. I had to make some short term sacrifices and be smart with my money, but it was completely worth it.

I guarantee if you start attacking your debt like your life depends on it, you will be surprised how quickly you can drastically change your financial position. Like anything, it just requires focus. Physically write down your goals for paying off debt, decide that it’s going to be a priority and just put everything else to the side. I always avoided doing it in the past partly out of selfishness. I hated having to work hard and earn money, to then just go and spend it all paying off debt. But I can’t stress how worth it the decision was.

Tactics for paying off your debt

Like I said, the most important strategy is just to attack.

However, debt can be pretty complex and conniving. Sometimes a real battle plan can be the best way to carry out the assault on your debt.

Two of the best strategies are the Snowball Method and the Avalanche Method.

I’ve described these strategies in a previous post and you can also find out more about them by searching online. Don’t deliberate too long though, just pick a route to becoming debt free and get started on it!

Debt free

Life’s too short to be restricted by debt. Everyone can make progress if they make it a priority. It may feel tough at first, but you’ll adapt.

You’ll also surprise yourself with what you can accomplish when you knuckle down, get intentional, and stop letting other people have a stranglehold on your finances.

What are you waiting for? Attack that debt!