Want to Pay Off Debt? Explore These Tips and Actions

Debt can hang over your head and cause some serious issues. You may find yourself unable to make purchases that you need to make, getting more headaches, or even losing sleep from the stress of debt. You are probably eager to find ways to reduce debt. But do you know where to start? We’ve laid out a few basics to consider related to debt that may give you more peace of mind.

Prioritize your debt

Paying off debt can be a slow process, but it is worth it for the peace of mind you’ll have in the end. Make a list of “wants” versus “needs.” What do you enjoy spending money on every month, and what do you actually need to survive and make ends meet? While you may not have to eliminate every hobby or simple pleasure, you can save money by cutting back on the “wants” list and putting more toward your debt.

Things to consider when paying off debt

To pay off your debt, you should first know how much debt you owe. You can figure this out by creating a simple spreadsheet that shows the balance of the money you owe compared to the total annual income you make. Does this spreadsheet show that you are consistently paying more money than you earn before taxes? You can use the outcome to decide if you need to take advantage of official debt relief, or if you can do it yourself with some careful preparation. You may be able to slowly, steadily make progress by paying off a bit of your debt each month.

Make a list of the debt you owe. Include details like the debt name or account, the type of debt, the balance owed, the interest rate, the minimum monthly payment and payment term, and other important facts. Next, create or review your budget to answer a few simple questions. What amount do you need each month to pay for groceries, bills, rent, and other necessities? How much money can you put aside each month to dedicate to debt payments? Do you have any extra income that you can commit toward paying off your debt?

If you’ve determined that you can recover from debt with a do-it-yourself plan, consider these common options that people use as jumping-off points.

Snowball method

Start by paying off the smallest debts that you owe. This knocks out several items on your list that may look intimidating, but don’t require much preparation. Pay the minimum amount possible on as many of your remaining debts as possible. Any money left can go toward the next largest debt—thus the snowball analogy. You may enjoy using this method because it gives you a confident start toward paying off several debts at once.

Avalanche method

This method starts at the opposite end of the snowball method. Begin by paying off the largest, most wallet-draining debt as quickly as possible. Do you have any debt-dedicated money left at the end of the month? Pay it toward the next debt on your list.

This slowly eliminates your debts from the top down, much like an avalanche begins at the top and hits snow beneath it along the way. This method is popular because it first takes care of the debts with the biggest interest rates, ultimately creating more leeway for you to pay off more debts later.

Debt in collections

Have you fallen behind on debt by several months or longer? The company or organization you owe money to may have sold your account to a debt collection agency. The collections agency contacts you regularly to ask if you want to set up payment plans on behalf of the company to whom you owe money. So how can you pay off your debt that is in collections?

Before you blindly trust the messages from the collections agency, make sure the debt they are talking about is yours. Check your records. Call or email the company you directly owe money to, to confirm if they have in fact sold your account to this agency. If you find out that the debt is not yours, you can dispute the debt. You also have the right to seek advice and assistance from an attorney.

Seek advice from an attorney related to any applicable statute of limitations to see if their time to collect has run out; if it has, the agency is past the point where it can actively try to collect your debt. But if you contact the agency and pay a small amount, this can reactive your debt. Are you still within the timeframe? Determine how much you can pay each month to the collections agency. Or you can pay a large lump sum all at once to settle the debt. If you decide to settle a debt, you need to make sure to keep accurate records and properly document it.


Do you feel like you can’t get out of your debt, no matter how hard you try? Bankruptcy may be an option. The most common types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is generally a liquidation where you seek to discharge the debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a plan wherein there is a repayment plan whereby you make monthly payments over the next three or five years.

Get legal help as you navigate the debt repayment process

Repaying your personal debts takes time, effort, and a solid understanding of your legal requirements and rights. That’s why LegalShield is here to help. Our personal and family legal plans give you as our member access to a provider law firm. Our experienced provider law firms protect and empower members with personal consultation, advice, document review up to 15 pages each, a phone call or letter if determined necessary, and other services concerning issues with debt repayment process.