Personal Finance

How to Pay off A Debt

How to model paying off a debt (and still be able to afford coffee)

"Hey, I know what will make you feel better," I said to my friend who had recently learned he would have to incur thousands in unplanned student debt, "We can look up a loan calculator and see when you'll be able to pay off your loans."

With this brilliant plan in mind, I clicked on the first link I found and had him enter the numbers. We then moved the mouse to the calculate button only to show a screen that said, "You will not be able to pay off your debt." We doubled the number he was willing to pay for a month only to receive the same result.

Debt can feel like a cartoon anvil hanging over our heads. Whether it's credit card debt, student loan debt, or medical debt, the idea of paying off thousands while still being able to afford necessities like rent can be daunting.

If you have debt, you aren't alone. Americans owe over 1.5 trillion in student debt, and the average household has $5,315 in credit card debt.

Types of Debt

Debt comes in many forms.

Mortgage debt

Mortgage debt is the largest form of household debt. Mortgage loans allow people to buy a house or a commercial property, but can leave a family with a large loan to pay off.

Auto debt

Car loans can make purchasing that brand new car within reach, but they can also add thousands to a person's debt.

Credit Card debt

Credit cards allow you to buy items or services while paying only a portion of the cost. However, interest is added every time a credit card bill is not paid in full. This form of debt can grow quickly.

Student Loans

These loans allow a student to afford tuition. Unfortunately, student loans tend to be hefty, and many people will never be able to repay them in full. For a detailed student debt calculator that just makes sense, click here.

Personal Loans

This loan can be for anything ranging from home improvement to weddings.

Household debt

This is the total debt in your household, including both consumer debt and mortgage.

While we may hate debts, loans aren't necessarily a bad thing. Loans can help people become homeowners, have access to education, and be able to start a business.

Business debt

Business debt can be a great resource to scale a company and lengthen your runway.

A startup runway is the amount of time a business can run without running out of cash. Our Startup Suite can help you calculate how much you need to successfully launch your startup.

Step 1 - List your debt

It's easier to feel in control when you have all the facts. Make a list of all your debt and write it down. It may seem overwhelming, but put on a movie and pour a glass of wine. This is a great way to make sure you don't miss payments and to make a long-term plan for debt repayment.

Step 2 - Budget.

Outline your income and budget for needs, wants, and savings. Make sure you can afford all of the necessities, including housing, food, and transportation, as well as have a little for wants (Starbucks, anyone?) and be able to save for emergencies.

There are several different ways to budget. One is the 50/30/20 method, where 50% goes to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings. You can read more about this budgeting method in this article.

While paying off debt is a need, every person has different priorities and a different set of pressing expenses.

Another budgeting method is the envelope system. With this method, you put the cash you are going to spend in marked envelopes, including the money you will use to pay your debts.

For those who carry cards rather than cash, there are virtual versions. This method is useful as it removes excess spending and encourages planning. For example, your 'envelopes' could be labeled rent, travel, food or anything else you spend money on.

Impulse purchases will have to be categorized and will count as a deduction from that 'envelope,' making that expensive purse a lot less attractive. It will also assure that you stick to a set plan to pay off your bills.

Step 3 - Make a timeline

Causal's student debt calculator can help you figure out when and how to pay off your UK student debt.

We understand the unpredictability of life, and will help you forecast for every scenario. Our templates can also help you plan your payment strategy.

Step 4 - Payment Strategy

There are many different strategies for paying off debt.

Debt Snowball strategy

The debt snowball strategy consists of paying the minimum on all of your debts, except one. After that, you pay off the smallest debt first.

Debt Avalanche

This method starts the same, with paying the minimum on all your debts, except you pay off the one with the highest interest first.

Debt consolidation

With this method, you make all of your debts into one debt. A person can do this through loans or cards. By paying off all the debts, the payments may seem more straightforward by taking on one debt. In addition, this method can lower monthly payments if done right.

Snowflaking method

This strategy consists of using any extra money to repay debts. This strategy is usually used as a supplement. For example, if you budgeted $300 for groceries but only spent $250, you could put $50 into paying off debt. While this may not seem substantial, overtime this method could put a dent in your debt.

Causal can help you find the best debt strategy to feel like you have your debt under control. Our clean and aesthetic templates work for anything from student debt to business debt. We understand that data-based decisions are the easiest way to make financial decisions. Our models will show you the outcome of each scenario, while forecasting for the uncertainty of life.

With Causal, you can plan to pay off your debt before you even take out a loan.

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