Managing debt

Many Americans have short- and long-term debt, such as credit card balances, student loans, or mortgages. Here are ways you can manage it.

Make a budget

A great way to find extra money to pay down debt is to make a budget. The key is to separate needs from wants to see where you can cut back on spending. Learn more about how to make a budget.

Make a debt plan

Pay off debt based on a specific time frame or payment amount and change variables to see how it affects the results. 

Use this easy debt repayment calculator.

Debt guidelines

These tips can help you stay on the path to financial wellness:

  • Focus on paying off debt with the highest interest rates first. 
  • Try to take on debt only for necessities—things like education, a home, or a car. 
  • If possible, avoid using credit cards unless you can pay them off each month.
  • If you have significant credit card debt, you may want to explore the tools on or contact the  National Foundation for Credit Counseling to learn about consolidating your debt into one monthly payment.

Help avoid future debt

An emergency fund can help you avoid going into debt due to unexpected financial emergencies. A good rule of thumb is to save three months of basic expenses, but you may need more than that depending on your personal situation.

To make consistent saving easy, think about setting up a special account for your fund. You could even set up automatic deposits to help your savings grow. Learn more about creating an emergency fund

Make your future a priority

Don’t forget to set aside money for retirement! If you set aside money in your employer-sponsored retirement plan now, you'll have financial support in the future.