Cash Only: Cash only means using cash instead of credit cards to purchase goods and services. Studies have shown that people spend more when paying with a credit card. This also applies to debt cards, but to a lesser degree. Using credit cards delays accountability when making purchases. The act of handing over cash forces people to think over the purchase.

  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: Use the cash only system along with the envelope system to stay on a budget and spend less money. Continue to use the debit account for fixed expenses (ones that do not change monthly).

Debt Consolidation: Debt consolidation combines several smaller debts into one larger debt, usually with more favorable pay-off terms: a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment, or both.

  • Caution: When the debts are combined into one,  incentives offered by student loan servicers on federal student loans are forfeited.
  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: Consider debt consolidation only when the new pay-off terms significantly outweigh the original terms. Debt consolidation negates the benefits of the debt snowball method (discussed below) and people tend to lose motivation to pay off debt after consolidation.

Debt Snowball: The debt snowball is a repayment method where all debts are ranked by balance (regardless of interest rate). Minimum payments are made on all debts except the one with the smallest balance. Attack that debt with an additional payment each month until the balance is paid in full. Once it is paid off, the money is rolled into the next debt with the smallest balance.

See the example below.  Minimum payments are made on all four accounts, but the account with a balance of $500.00 is attacked and paid off first (despite having the highest interest rate). After that one is paid off, the account with the $2,000.00 balance is attacked.

Debt Snowball Example

  • Account 1 $500.00 with 10.00% interest rate
  • Account 2: $2,000.00 with 0.00% interest rate
  • Account 3: $15,000.00 with 6.25% interest rate
  • Account 4: $20,000.00 with 0.99% interest rate

End of example

  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: Do not worry about the interest rate. When repaying debt, it is important to feel the wins especially early on. The debt snowball method creates momentum to get out of debt fast.

Debt Free Visual: A debt free visual is a daily visual reminder of the goal to become debt free. It can also be a visual to track progress towards becoming debt free.  Check out the Resources page for debt free visuals.

Default Versus Good Standing: Default is the failure to pay on a debt when due or meet the debt’s legal obligations, whereas good standing is meeting the obligations of the debt agreement.

  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: If accounts are in default, it is possible to negotiate a settlement with the debt holder.  Be sure to negotiate a settle prior to making payments, get the settlement in writing, and do not allow the debt holder to have electronic access to any accounts.

Envelope System: The envelope system involves storing cash for expenses in physically separate envelopes instead of relying on a debit card or credit card.

  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: Use tiny binder clips instead of actual envelopes.

Free Credit Report: Consumers are entitled to one free credit report from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion annually.

  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: Request one every four months from one of the three reporting agencies.

Loan Servicer: A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on a federal student loan.

  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: Contact the loan servicer to find out if incentives are available for repaying off the debt. For example, Great Lakes offers a 0.25% reduction in interest rates for signing up for automatic payments.

Repayment Plans: Student loan servicers offer various repayment plans that give the lender the flexibility to change the terms of how the loans are repaid.

Zero-Based Budget: In a zero-based budget income minus expenses must equal zero. Every dollar must have a specific purpose in the budget.

  • Slim Fit Wallet Tip: It is safe to include a buffer line item in the zero-based budget or to overestimate the cost of certain expenses.