- Sept. 27, 2023
- 3 min read
Different types of debt
Best practices for debt management
Tips to help pay down debt
For most, debt is a part of everyday life. In 2023, U.S. households' outstanding debt reached a total of $17 trillion. From student loans to credit card debt to mortgages, managing that debt can feel like a steep uphill climb.
First, take a beat, find your center and breathe deeply. Then, follow these three tips to prioritize your debt repayment without sacrificing your other money goals.
Plot out your priorities
Organizing your debt is essential to getting a handle on it. Begin by listing your loans all in one place. Include all the details: balance, lender, monthly payment and any important dates. Don't forget to detail minimum payment requirements and any possible late fees.
Next, identify your good debt vs. your bad debt. Not all debt is bad. Good debt (for instance, a mortgage) helps you build credit and strengthen your financial health, as long as you're making regular, on-time payments. These kinds of loans are seen as wealth-building investments and establish you as a reliable borrower (a win-win!).
Organizing your debt is essential to getting a handle on it.
Mind your method
You can take different approaches to pay off debt. If slow and steady regular payments sound like your speed, the snowball strategy might be the right fit for you. If you're paying down good debt, this approach is ideal to reap the benefits of being a responsible borrower.
For those struggling with too many lenders, debt consolidation might be the right fit. With this strategy, you manage just one payment and may reduce your interest rate too.
Or maybe you need some outside help. If you've reached your breaking point, a professional credit counselor or debt consolidation can help you get a handle on your debt and build a plan to start tackling it.
Use all of your tools
Whatever method you choose, the same tools you use to budget and save toward your other financial goals can give your debt management a boost. For instance, sticking to a regular budget like the 50/30/20 approach can ensure you're always setting money aside for debt repayment. (Get started with a free template .)
If you're a super saver , consider treating loan repayment the same way you would your next vacation. Set a little aside each month to put toward that debt. Tools like Ally Bank's spending and savings buckets can help you automate that saving and meet your goals even sooner.
Plan, prioritize and prosper
If you're staring down a mountain of debt, it's easy to be overwhelmed. It might seem impossible and like you'll never reach the top. By mapping out a plan, you can divide and conquer and take it one step at a time.