Have you ever wondered if you are paying off debt the right way? More than likely, you are making one of these ridiculously common mistakes. Knowledge is power, my friends. So, it's time to educate yourself. Here are 14 of the biggest mistakes I see people making when it comes to paying off debt:
1. You pay extra on all your debts.
Let's pretend you have $100 extra a month to allocate toward debt, and you have four types of debts currently. If you are paying $25 on each of the four debts, you are doing it wrong. You aren't getting as much traction as you could due to a lack of focus.
You're going to feel like you will never get out of debt, and you're paying too much in interest this way. Focus on one debt at a time. Put that extra $100 toward one debt, and pay the minimum on all the others.
2. You aren't paying extra toward principle only.
If you aren't paying your normal required payment and putting the extra amount toward principle only, you are paying extra money on interest that you shouldn't be.
3. You aren't all in, so you aren't paying off debt as quickly as you should be.
Your intensity should be like a building is burning down, and your puppy is on the eighth floor. Run! Go save your dog! That's the same intensity you should have when paying off debt. Pay it off like Fido's life depends on your hustle. (I sure hope you love dogs.) You need to be so into your plan that you refuse to buy coffee until you pay off debt. That intensity gets you results.
4. You are waiting to make more money before you start paying off debt.
This is simply procrastination. Stop that. More money doesn't mean more progress, unless you change your mindset. The problem isn't your income; the problem is your mindset. More money simply equates to bigger payments and more debt.
5. You don't have a plan.
It's like deciding you will learn how to swim a day before you begin a triathlon. You, my friend, will sink like a rock. You need a structured, detailed plan with actionable steps on how you will achieve your goal.
6. You aren't prioritizing paying off debt.
If it's not a priority to you, you won't see results.
7. You are still buying coffee, eating out or drinking beer every game night.
This is all money you could be using to pay back your debt.
8. You are paying off debt before you have a starter "oh sh*t" fund.
Be sure you get money set aside for minor emergencies. Do not start paying off debt before you have a baby "oh sh*t" fund of $1,000. Why $1,000? That is typically enough to cover most insurance deductibles and prevent a small inconvenience from becoming a catastrophe.
9. You aren't counting your debt that went to collections in your "get out of debt" plan.
Imagine being out of debt and ready to buy a home, only to get your application denied on the spot because you have $20,000 in debt that was sent to collections, and you didn't even know about it. That stuff happens. Be sure to run your credit report to not have this stuff sneak up on you later in life.
10. You cave every time someone asks you to go shopping or grab coffee.
It's time to muster all of your self-control. Find free things do in your neighborhood.
11. You pay off debt, just so you can go back into debt.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, "I'm trying to pay off my credit card so I can finance a car," I'd be giving Warren Buffett a run for his money. This mentality is detrimental. You have officially accepted debt as part of your life. That may be OK for you, but that sure is hell is not the way I would want to live my life. Talk about stressful.
12. You aren't automating your bills as much as you could be.
Automate your monthly bills so you aren't accidentally missing a payment. Then, when you have extra money, you can select whichever debt you are focusing on and put the extra toward that.
13. You are in debt denial.
It's not that you don't want to eventually pay off debt; it's that you have no idea how much you have. You, my friend, are experiencing debt denial.
14. You don't think you are in debt because it's 0 percent financing.
This absolutely is debt. Try making a late payment and see what happens. That company that gave you such a good deal will turn into an ankle-biting poodle, back-charging you for interest at a "nice" 22 percent. Just because it's 0 percent financing doesn't mean you don't have to worry about it. It's still debt. Treat it that way.
If you find yourself in any of these common mistakes, pick up from where you left off and start over. You will get real results that shock yourself and your friends when you treat debt as seriously as it is. Get rid of it as quickly as you can. You deserve a stress-free financial life.