When you’re staring up at a mountain of debt, climbing to the top debt-free can seem overwhelming. But with a little planning and a lot of grit, you will make it. If you’re ready to start the effort, here are some suggestions to help you ways you can conquer your debt once and for all.

First things first. It’s time to get real about your debt. No more hiding behind auto-withdrawal or minimum payments. Take some time to make a list of all your outstanding debts. Be sure to include: Who you owe, Balance, Interest rate, Minimum payment amount, Payment due date and Estimated payoff date. Create a debt tracking sheet in Excel or with plain old pencil and paper to help you keep track.

More than likely, you didn’t wind up in debt overnight. So it’s going to take some time to reach the top to be debt-free. Once you know where you stand, you can make a plan. To help you get there, you need a plan that motivates you.

Looking at your list, which debt would you rather pay off first: Your smallest balance, the highest cost, or the one that really stresses you out? Decide which option motivates you the most.

Here are some common repayment methods.

Debt Snowball:

Use this option to pay off your smallest debt first, then roll the money to the next smallest debt and so on, to create momentum in your pay-down plan.

Debt Avalanche:

Start by paying off your debt with the highest interest, no matter the balance. You’ll save money in interest and then be able to apply that toward other balances. How debt avalanche could lift you out of debt. 

Debt Stacking:

Pick a debt to focus on based on both the balance and interest rate while making regular payments to your other balances. When you’ve paid off your target debt, apply the amount you were paying toward the next one.

There’s no time like now to get started. Prioritize your debts based on the method you choose. Then update your debt-tracking sheet with an estimated pay-off date based on your plan.

Little victories can boost your confidence. Remember to review your progress every month, and don’t forget to reward yourself for each milestone with a small treat, like a nice dinner or a cup of joe at your favorite coffee shop. Once you’ve paid off all your balances, you’ll have a nice wad of cash to throw at your emergency fund or your nest egg.

Ultimately, you need to change how you manage your money.

Check your debt. Make a debt-tracking sheet and update it regularly to track your progress.

Hold off on new debt and pay more than the bare minimum. You can’t get out of debt while you’re making more and adding interest. Put a freeze on new loans or charges while you’re working your pay-off plan.

Start budgeting. A budget will help ensure you have enough money set aside each month, including debt repayment.

Watch your spending. If you want to save more and pay off debt, you need to keep your spending below your income. Think about each purchase before you make it. If your TV goes out, do you really need a new one? You could probably go without it for a while. What if your car breaks down? You need a reliable way to get to work. Don’t confuse your wants with your needs.

This was information shared by KPER’s on their webpage. Plus if you are within 5 years of retirement, it is a good idea to attend a pre-retirement workshop so you can prepare.

It doesn’t happen quickly and you want to plan for your future.