Spring clean your debt to reach your money goals faster

By Jackie Lam

Reviewed by Kimberly Rotter

May 02, 2024

Read time: 2 min

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It's that time of year again: spring cleaning. But sprucing up your abode isn't just about clearing cluttered closets and dusting long-forgotten shelves. You'll also want to roll up your sleeves and fold some financial spring cleaning into the mix—and hone in on your debt load. That’s how you can make a plan to get rid of your debt sooner. 

Here's how to set realistic debt payoff goals and make steady progress on them: 

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Prioritize debt cleanup 

Got a debt situation that’s as messy as that morass of stuff underneath your bed? Start by organizing. Get your brain around your debt. Jot down the following for each of your debts: 

  • Account name

  • Outstanding balance that you owe

  • Interest rate 

  • Monthly payment 

  • If it's gone to collections, the name of the debt collection agency 

Now you can come up with an action plan. 

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Decide on a payoff approach

Committing to a debt payoff method could help you make steady progress, stay motivated, and crush your debt sooner. Let's look at three popular options: 

Debt snowball. With the debt snowball method, you put all your extra dollars toward your smallest balance (while making minimum payments on the others). Then, you focus on paying off the next-smallest balance. Because you knock out the smallest debt first, you could get a quick win and some positive juju to keep moving forward.

Debt avalanche. The debt avalanche method works similarly to the debt snowball method, but you’ll focus on the balance that has the highest interest rate. Then, you work your way down. The main advantage is that you could end up paying less interest overall.

Debt blizzard. The debt blizzard method gives you the best of both worlds. You start by paying off your smallest balance first, which gives you a motivational kick. Then, you switch over to the debt avalanche, and focus on the balance with the highest interest. From there, you work your way down.

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Keep tabs on your progress 

Monitoring your debt payoff progress will help you see how far you've trekked along. Plus, it could help you make tweaks and find solutions to hit your debt payoff debt goals quicker. 

Using handy tools such as Achieve's GOOD™ app can help you see where your money is going, create a savvy debt payoff plan, and reach that debt-free finish line in a speedier fashion. 

Check your credit report

It's a good idea to order a credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Check it for inaccuracies or missing information. 

Errors on a credit report are more common than you think. In 2023, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received over 443,000 complaints about errors on credit reports, which was more than the number of complaints reported in 2022 and 2021 combined. 

Common mistakes that might pop up include unknown addresses, incorrect spelling of your name, accounts that don’t belong to you, and late payments mistakenly reported. Some errors don’t affect your credit standing, but some do. It’s a good idea to make sure your credit history is completely accurate.

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Consider other debt solutions

Research options to help you get rid of your debt quicker, save money on interest, or a combination of both. Here are a few routes to consider: 

Debt consolidation. When you consolidate debt, you're using a new loan to pay off more than one other debt. This may be an option to consider if you can get a lower interest rate. Consolidation could help you streamline your finances by reducing the number of monthly bills you have to pay. You might also end up with a monthly payment that’s lower than what you’re paying now.  

Debt resolution. Resolving debts means getting your creditor to accept less than the full amount you owe, but consider the account paid in full. They agree to forgive the rest. You can negotiate with creditors on your own if you’re comfortable advocating for yourself. Or you could let a professional debt resolution company do the work on your behalf.

Home equity loan. If you have enough home equity, you might be able to borrow against it. These kinds of loans typically have lower rates than personal loans and credit cards. You could use a home equity loan for debt consolidation or just about anything else. 

You’re the CEO of your life. Take charge of your finances today to create a better financial situation tomorrow. Investing a bit of effort in financial spring cleaning, and especially on your debt situation, could mean hitting your money goals faster.

Jackie Lam - Author

Jackie is an Achieve contributor. She is an accredited financial coach (AFC®) who has written for Business Insider, BuzzFeed, CNET, USA Today's Blueprint, and others. She coaches artists and freelancers.

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Kimberly is Achieve’s senior editor. She is a financial counselor accredited by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education®, and a mortgage expert for The Motley Fool. She owns and manages a 350-writer content agency.

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