Don’t let yourself drown in debt! If you owe a lot of money to creditors or the IRS, getting out might seem impossible – but it’s not.

If you’re ready to regain your financial freedom, you need a plan for doing it. We’ve compiled a step by step guide for you to follow in order to free yourself of debt’s heavy financial burden.

*Disclosure:  This is a partnered post.

Step One: Make a Conscious Decision

If you’ve decided it’s time to get out of debt, it’s going to take a lifestyle change. You need to make a conscious decision to stop borrowing money, starting today. No more financing, no more credit cards, no more spending on what you don’t have cash to pay for.

The existing credit cards you do have should be taken out of your wallet and cut up to eliminate any temptation. Set a realistic budget for yourself, and stick to it.

Step Two: Find Out How Much Debt You Have

Determining how much money you actually owe can really be quite a challenge. If you’re like most people, the numbers are hard to confront, and it’s easier to put your head in the sand while interest rates compound. It’s time to step up and do whatever it takes to figure out your amount of debt.

To do so, pour through all of your account statements, call any necessary company, and read through the dings on your credit report. You also need to know the annual percentage rate (APR) on each principal balance, as well as the required minimum monthly payment. Try using an online credit card payment tool to make this calculation easier.

Step Three: Get Your Taxes in Order

Have you received a Notice of Deficiency from the IRS? Don’t panic. This notice informs you that an assessment is being made on the income tax you owe, and it’s designed to give a taxpayer the chance to pay back what is owed to the IRS.

Fill out the Form 5564 and make a plan to start paying back the debt as quickly as possible to avoid interest accrual.

Step Four: Decide What to Pay First

To strategically attack your debt, pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, whether it’s a student loan, credit card, or any other outstanding bill. If you can, pay off more than the minimum monthly payment.

If you run the math, spending more upfront will save you a ton of interest charges in the end. See if it’s possible to negotiate your interest rate. Not many people they can save thousands of dollars over a five minute phone call.

Use simple negotiations for the APR on all of your credit cards, and be sure to make the adjustments to your math from Step One.

Step Five: Determine How to Pay it Off

You’re probably thinking, “All of this sounds great, but how am I going to pay it off?”. For starters, you just freed up a lot of cash from lowering your interest rate. From there, cut out whatever you don’t need – cell phones, internet, television – that takes money out of your pocket.

If extreme frugality isn’t something you think you’ll be able to maintain, see what bills you can lower without making such sacrifices. Also explore ways to increase your income by seeking a raise or a part-time side hustle.

Step Five: Monitor and Adjust

Once your plan is set, don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable. Monitor your credit score using and see if it starts to improve as you begin making payments. As your score improves, consider loan consolidations and balance transfers to save money on interest charges for your remaining debts.

As you begin to work the system, remember to not give up. Just like losing weight, it’ll take time and diligence to really slough off your debt. Stick to your plan

Don’t let debt be a roadblock to building a rich life. Follow these steps and find your way to financial freedom!

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