If you're struggling with debt, chances are it didn't happen overnight. Which means you can't make it go away overnight either. It takes lifestyle changes, and a long-term plan. And MSN Money has five good suggestions for new habits that can help you . . .
#1.) Have a goal and a deadline. You need to start with an overall goal, and a time frame to reach it. From there, you figure out how to reach the goal in the time you have. It sounds simplistic. But if it was easy . . . you probably wouldn't be in debt.
You divide your main goal into smaller goals, each with its own deadline. So if you want to get out of debt within two years, take the whole amount, figure out how much you have to pay off each month, then force that into a monthly budget.
#2.) Be realistic and honest. The goals have to be doable. You'll stay more motivated if you set goals that you can actually meet consistently. If you try to do too much, you'll end up giving up right away. And nothing will change.
#3.) Hang out with like-minded people. If your close friends are all spending more money than you, you're probably not going to get out of debt. You'll keep spending money that you should be saving, just to be included in what they do.
#4.) Keep track of all your expenses. There’s no substitute for seeing numbers on paper. When you record every dollar you spend, you'll notice more areas where money gets wasted, and you'll save more.
#5.) Take one balance at a time. Pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. Then the next highest, and so on, until you’re done.
It’s a simple formula . . . spend less than you make. Then it's just a matter of time.