Inside: Paying down debt can be a long, hard road. Make it easier with some simple tricks. You’ll be surprised what happens when you break up your paycheck!
When you’re paying down debt, you might find yourself in a ridiculous circle. You pay down your balance. But then you suddenly need to pay a surprise bill. You don’t have money to cover the bill, so you put it on the card. Now the card balance is nearly as bad as it was before. So you go back to paying the balance down again.
Especially when you’ve been trying so hard. You didn’t go out to happy hour with your buddies. You cancelled your cable service. Now it feels like all that sacrifice has gone to waste.
Paying Off Debt Is Frustrating
Most Americans are in the same boat as you. We’ve all heard the stats. The average American owes $15,000 just in credit card debt.
It’s a pretty common problem that lacks an easy solution. Otherwise, everyone would be out of debt tomorrow.
Still, there are some steps you can take to simplify the process a bit.
Our own family has a big goal to pay off debt this year. It’s our #yearofno. But that hashtag motto isn’t the only tool we’re using to wage war against credit cards that have taken over too much of our lives.
I’m going to share another way we’re gaining ground in our debt battle with you today.
How to Get Out of Debt By Breaking Up Your Paycheck
Step One: Your Regular Checking Account
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Step Two: The Other Accounts
A checking account covers your day to day bills. But don’t deposit your entire paycheck into that account. You’ve got irregular bills and expenses, too. So let’s pay those in the laziest way possible.
I’m serious. Human beings are a lot like water. At our most basic, we’re likely to follow the path of least resistance. If you know this about yourself, you can use it to your advantage.
If money is in your checking account, it’s tough to resist that impulse buy. Your good intentions to pay off debt or bills “later” won’t pay the bills.
How To Use Laziness to Your Advantage
You can automatically withdraw all of these things from your paycheck (or checking account) on a regular basis. Then you won’t have to pay much attention to it. (Aside from an occasional check up.)
Everyone preaches that you should save for retirement, and starting yesterday is best. But you’ve never had the extra money to do it.
Unless you’ve already cut all your frivolous spending and still have no money left each month, you need to set this up now. Start with just 1% of your paycheck if you’re nervous about it. It comes out of your pretax paycheck, so you won’t be missing the entire 1%.
And if your employee offers a match, that’s free money you’re missing!
If you have a family, you probably have medical bills.
If you don’t meet the minimum to deduct medical bills from your taxes at the end of the year, look into a Flexible Spending Account. There’s no minimum spending requirement.
You’ll move some pretax money from your paycheck into the FSA each pay period. But be sure to estimate on the low end when you set it up. The money in there is “use it or lose it”, meaning that if you don’t spend the whole amount by the end of your company’s fiscal year, the IRS keeps it. No one wants that!
Most companies will handle this for you, so ask about it at work.
An added benefit is knowing that money is available when we have to go to the emergency room. There’s always enough to worry about at that time without adding in money troubles.
The Debt Account
If you’re ready to make debt payment a priority, open a separate checking account. We chose to use an online bank called Ally. We like it because they don’t have fees, and it’s easy to set up.
Choose a bank that you have no other accounts with. This will keep your debt money separated, both physically and mentally.
File some direct deposit paperwork so part of every paycheck goes into this account that’s strictly for paying off debt. What amount can you comfortably pay towards debt? For us, it was 15% of each paycheck.
Each pay period, pay your credit card bills from this account. It’s easy to do a debt snowball with this money. Pay minimum payments on all debts except the one you are ready to get rid of. Sock the rest of the money to that one debt.
By separating out this cash, it’s no longer part of your daily budget. Not having a debit card for this account makes it harder to get to. That makes the temptation to spend it on other things minimal.
Use your laziness to your advantage!
Having an account to pay off debt was great. But I noticed that at certain times of the year, we were still adding to the credit card debt. When we needed to fill our big propane tank, it came with a big bill. We weren’t always prepared to pay for that.
We already had a savings and checking account with Capital One 360. (Not to be confused with the credit cards, this online bank used to be called ING.) We love Capital One 360 because you can open several savings accounts to use for different goals.
So we opened an account that I called “Heat Bill”. I set up an automatic withdrawal from our checking account that will deposit into this account every month.
Other accounts that we currently have, or plan to have with future pay raises:
Hubby gets biweekly paychecks. Twice a year we have a month with an “extra” paycheck.
People talk about this paycheck like it’s free and clear money. But that’s not entirely the case. You’ll still need groceries, gas for the car, and other purchases that don’t stop coming just because it’s “extra paycheck time.”
Still, a part of that paycheck should be available since it won’t be needed for regular bills. Use this “extra money” to pay insurance bills and other irregular expenses. Paying these bills in one lump sum rather than monthly gets you discounts. Plus, you’ll love one less monthly payment!
If you’re paying down debt, break up your paychecks and take the lazy way out!
What a sigh of relief you’ll heave when a bill comes in and you have money at the ready to pay. No more relying on credit cards for you!
If you like the idea of breaking up your paycheck, you’ll love sinking funds!
Join the conversation on Facebook and let us know which of these tips you will begin with! And which tips are you already using successfully?