SIDEBAR: Overcoming Debt
While it’s not necessary to be 100 percent debt free before you begin saving for the future, many families struggle with debilitating debt that makes it impossible to save anything. What should they do? The following approaches have helped many.
Make a Snowball
Popularized by Author Dave Ramsey, the “debt snowball” approach leverages emotional gratification by having you tackle the smallest debt first, paying the minimum on all other debts until that one is completely paid off. At that point, you can take the money you were paying on the smallest debt and begin applying it toward the next largest debt until it is paid off as well.
By repeating this pattern with each consecutively larger debt, you can reduce overall debt load in a relatively short time.
The most important aspect of successful debt reduction is making a plan you can follow over the long haul. One way to stay motivated is by tracking your progress. Take advantage of online tools, or try a money management app. Among the popular free ones are Mint, Manilla, MoneyWise, Check, and LevelMoney.
—Kyle Dana, Springfield, Missouri