Too many people simply look at the minimum amount due on their credit cards and think, "Wow, that's so cool, all I have to do is pay the minimum on this $12,346.52 balance; that's not much at all!"

Think again. If you paid the minimum amount on your credit card, you'll barely touch the principal, as your payments will mostly be interest. How long do you think it would take you to pay off a $10,000 balance if you only made minimum payments? 33 years! Yes, that's longer than most mortgages.

So, you're thinking, "I gotta pay off these balances, where do I start?" Many people advise paying the debt with the highest interest first and work your way down. I find that too many people find this frustrating, as the debt with the highest interest rate usually carries the highest balance, and they don't feel as though they're getting anywhere. While that may be the correct way mathematically to pay down debt, let me suggest another way.

First, make sure you have an emergency fund. If you're paying off debt without an emergency fund and an emergency arises, you'll have to go back into debt to cover the emergency. That would be even more frustrating!

List all your debt from lowest to highest balance. Throw everything you can towards the lowest balance, including the kitchen sink, that is, if you sold it in a yard sale. I mean EVERYTHING; put any amount you can spare towards the smallest balance while continuing to make the minimum payments on all your other balances. Soon, that first balance will be paid off, and psychologically you'll feel great; well, perhaps you'll only feel good, but nevertheless, better than before.

Then, take all the money you've been putting towards that first balance and use it to pay off the second balance. When that is paid off, you go on to the next one. Soon all of your debt will be paid off.

Dave Ramsey agrees this is the better method for paying off your debt than paying off the highest interest rate first. 

Remember to reward yourself along the way. Rewarding yourself after paying off each balance is not necessarily the best way, as some people have a tendency to slip when doing this. Let me suggest this: reward yourself after you pay off every $500 or $1,000. That way you'll have a milestone from which to gauge and you'll give yourself the motivation to get to the next milestone and conquer it.

Start today by lining up all your debt from lowest to highest balance. This shouldn't be too daunting. Think about how much you can apply towards this balance. Now, how long do you think it will take you to pay it off? 

CategoriesCredit & Debt