When can I pay off my debt?
Debt can be a major obstacle towards achieving your financial goals, not to mention it’s stressful. Setting up a budget is the first step to being able to pay off your debt. When you can pay off your debt will depend on how much you owe, the interest rate on that debt, and your monthly payments.
How can I pay off my debt sooner?
The simple answer here is to pay as much as you can towards your debt. There are some other options like debt consolidation, debt settlement, or taking out money from a retirement account. Some of these may sound tempting, but they usually come with drawbacks, such as higher interest rates, hidden fees, or jeopardizing your retirement savings.
Focus on your goal of paying off debt and stay the course. Making monthly payments now, even if it’s not much, will help you pay the debt off sooner because it prevents more and more interest from accumulating on the debt. Also, any time you come across extra money – a tax refund, a bonus at work, a birthday gift from grandma – you can pay down more of the principal on your debt.
Is it okay to just make the minimum payments?
This varies depending on the type of debt, the principal, and the interest rate.
For example, your credit card may have a minimum payment of only $25 per month. However, credit cards also charge really high interest rates – sometimes up to 20% or more! If you have a balance on your credit card of $1,500, and the interest rate is 19%, this is $285 per year of interest. In other words, making the minimum $25 per month payment is only paying off $15 per year of the principal! It would take over 15 years to pay off this balance if only making the minimum payment.
Avoid pitfalls like the one above, and pay as much towards your debt as you can. It’s helpful to put together a monthly budget to determine how much you can contribute to paying off debt. Then you can use the calculator below to see when you’ll be debt free!
- Debt Amount – The amount of money you owe.
- Interest Rate – The interest rate charged on this debt. For student loans this might be in the range of 2-7%. For credit cards it could be 20% or more! Log into your account or contact your lender to get this number.
- Monthly Payment – The amount of money you pay every month. Sometimes the minimum payment only barely covers interest. Put as much as you can here to pay off the debt as soon as possible.
- Number of Payments – The number of monthly payments you will have to make before the debt is paid in full.
- Time to Payoff – How long until your debt is paid off and you’re debt free!