With the rising cost of living, the Asian family has felt the lack of income growth significantly. Even when both partners are earning a paycheck, it can be difficult to make the money stretch to the end of the month. If they’re parents, it is even more difficult. Add in the rising cost of basic expenses such as housing, utilities, food, and fuel and you can easily see how difficult it can be for families to stay afloat financially. Moreover, if one parent loses his or her job, the effects can deal a devastating financial blow to a family’s finances.

These steps aren’t a means to remove debt instantly, or even remove debt in a short term. By learning how to pay off debt fast you can release this burden and remove some of the stress from your life.

This is, however, a list of real ways that you can work to help ease the amount of debt you currently owe and focus on not only being debt free but having a significant amount of money in savings as well as set aside for retirement.

1. Stop using credit cards

If you feel that you aren’t ready to fly solo with no credit cards, perhaps consider keeping one account open for emergencies. However, be careful. Don’t carry it with you; rather, put it away in a safe place. You don’t want to be tempted to use it when you shouldn’t. If you do not have the money to buy the item, do not buy it.  No vacations, no new shoes.  Remember that credit cards are there for emergencies or to be paid in full amount at the end of each month.

2. Don’t create new debt

Don’t spend the money that you don’t have. Adopting this mindset will help you rule your finances, rather than letting them rule you. Credit does have its place for big-ticket items, like buying a house, car, or education—but as far as everyday living goes, make sure you’re living within your means. If you limit yourself to working with what’s in your debit account, you’re off to a great start.

3. Pay cash only

This is the most popular method shown by Dave Ramsey.  Putting cash money in envelopes for weekly or monthly expenditures like groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. can help you to curb spending.  If you have a hard time limiting what you spend at the checkout on splurge purchases, fall victim to the peer pressure of eating out for lunch every day or sneak that iced latte’s in the afternoon from the local coffee shop this can put a stop to those habits quickly. When you run out of money, you can’t spend again until the next “refill” day.

4. Pay off lower balances first

While most would say to work on the balances that have the highest interest rate first but for those who are dealing with a lower income that may be more difficult.  Sit down and look at each balance of credit card, loan, mortgage and work on the smaller balances first. Once you pay off one balance applies that monthly payment to the next smallest and so on and so forth. This method works especially well with those who have less wiggle room in their budget. Dave Ramsey shares some amazing tips about how to do this in his book mentioned above. He calls this the snowball method.  It is an excellent way to work through your debt.

5. Review your spending on food and entertainment

Food and entertainment expenditures can take up a lot of a family’s budget if not carefully monitored. In addition, if managed well, they can represent an opportunity for a large amount of savings.

There are many ways families can reduce their food and entertainment budget and still enjoy great family time. By planning meals at home and shopping accordingly, families can cut back on dining-out, which can save a family’s budget. It’s so much more economical to dine at home than it is to eat out at restaurants.

In addition, meal planning keep you  from overspending on food at the grocery store and wasting money on unnecessary items such as junk food and other impulse buys. You can also invite your friends and family for lunch together at home and watching movies together. When considering your entertainment options, don’t overlook community events that are fun and engaging but also very economical.

6. Earn extra income

We understand how difficult this can be. Jobs are not easy to come by especially if you have children and other responsibilities this can be tough.  If you are able to take on a traditional second job this is the time to do so.  If you are unable to go for a traditional job look into doing extra things you are good at to earn money here and there.

Sell foods, handcrafted goods or even take up online job; blogging and freelance writing on the side to supplement your income. Just make sure that you apply all extra income earned directly toward your debt and don’t increase your spending to match the increased income.

A plan without action is a dream, action without a plan is a nightmare

You have to get a plan together. Solving your debt problem will most likely take a varied approach. The best thing you can do for yourself is take all these ideas and incorporate them into your plan to reduce your debt.

If you’re not current on your payments, your situation is much direr. Do everything you can in order to catch up. This will give you a lot more options and will guard your credit from severe damage.