Do This First If You Want to Get Out of Debt

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You’ve made the decision to get out of debt. So now what?

Some people never get beyond this point because they don’t know where to start. The big picture is overwhelming, so people often quit before they ever write the first check to pay off a debt. You don’t have to worry about that, though, because you’re about to discover the first step toward saying goodbye to debt.

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Before you learn this secret, you need to be forewarned: this step may surprise you. It will seem like the wrong thing to do. You won’t guess it offhand because most people don’t think it has anything to do with debt reduction. Are you ready?

The first step is this: Save $1,000 as fast as you can.

The first step to getting out of debt is this: Save $1,000 as fast as you can.

You weren’t expecting that, were you? Why would you put money in a savings account instead of using it to pay off bills?

Because life happens. Your car has a busted transmission. Your husband ends up in the ER. You bury a loved one. There’s an unexpected pregnancy. Mayhem and surprises are a part of life. If you have the $1,000 emergency fund, you won’t have to go deeper into debt when the inevitable but surprising happens. Think of your emergency fund as a safety net.

Jump-start Your Savings Fund

If you’re serious about getting out of debt, work as hard as you can to put away $1,000 speedy quick. Sell the mysterious items in the attic. Get rid of the jewelry you bought to keep up with the Joneses. Switch to store-brand products. Work overtime. Find an extra job. Sell the boat. Save every penny, nickel and dime you find. Everything adds up.

Related: How to Save $1,000 in One Month

Once you’ve reached the magic number, take your money to the bank. Don’t keep it at home because you’ll use it. On what? You forgot to get cash for the school trip. The pizza driver needs a tip. Your coworkers are pooling money for a farewell gift. Instead of tempting yourself with cash on hand, open a savings account that’s separate from your regular checking account and put your $1,000 in it. And then leave it alone. Don’t touch it. It’s for emergencies. (And a clearance sale at your favorite store is not an emergency.)

Related: 3 Questions to Ask Before You Use Your Emergency Fund

Proof You Can Do It

The safety net for the unexpected isn’t the only plus in starting your emergency fund. This first step also gives you confidence, a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of control. This step proves you can save money. You can control your behavior. You’ve discovered the power of intense focus and determination. Now keep using those skills to tackle the next step—getting rid of your debt.

You can do this!

It takes a plan to find money to save, and a budget is that plan. Learn more about our free budget app EveryDollar here.

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