You had a great summer, you did everything you wanted to do — and now you're in debt. You have no idea how you got here, and you have no idea how you're going to pay it off, but don't worry, you're not alone! Don't go running to your parents just yet.

Learning to pay off your debt is one of the fundamental ways to reach financial independence. I know, I know - sounds boring. But adulting is real, and once you've achieved it, the benefits are so sweet. Being financially independent means you no longer have to worry about moving back in with your parents because you spent all of your money on kegs and eating out. You won't have to ask your mom for money every two weeks, and you won't have to live off of Kraft Dinner anymore (unless you're into that). Once you know how to properly manage your money, you'll have so much more freedom to do and buy the things you want, when you want!

Sounds nice, doesn't it? Here are nine strategies you can use to break the cycle, rid yourself of all your credit card debt, and start adulting.

Create a realistic plan 

The first step to solving your debt problem is creating a realistic plan. Download a finance app or create an Excel spreadsheet to figure out how much you're currently spending and where you can cut back. Be realistic. Don't plan on only eating Mr. Noodles for eight weeks when you know you'll go crazy and end up ordering an extra large pizza every other day. Create a plan that works for you, and one that you know you can stick to. Be firm, but practical. Start with weaning off your daily $5 Starbucks by whipping up your own cappuccino at home, and take it from there.

Communicate your plan to others

It's tough to stick to a spending plan when your friends are inviting you out to bars and shopping sprees every weekend. If you're willing to make exceptions and go out once a month instead of every Saturday, communicate that. If you're going to be more strict, be clear. Let them know how important your financial goals are to you, and celebrate with them every so often when you can happily afford it. Letting people know about your efforts can also help hold you accountable for your budgeting goals (e.g. they can call you out when you’re spending unnecessarily). Plus, chances are, your friends would be down to save some cash, too! Make a pact together and help one another stick to it.

Pay off the most expensive debt first

Do you have one big charge on your credit card and loads of little ones? Tackle the largest one first. If you spent $400 on a trip to Montreal in July and put it all on your credit card, pay that off first. Then, start chipping away at the smaller charges you accumulated over the summer.

Pay off more than the minimum

To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance. Paying the minimum usually just takes care of that month's interest and only prolongs a debt-payoff strategy. With payments, try doubling the minimum, or if that's too much, add $5-$10 on top of it. Trust us, the last thing you want to do is get stuck trying to pay off all of your late fees.

Make weekly, not monthly, payments

Commit to paying everything off by making weekly payments instead of monthly ones. It will help keep you in check and force you to stay up to date with exactly how much you have to pay off. 

Sell unwanted gifts and household items

If you've moved into a new place for the school season, this is the perfect time to sell your unwanted things! If you're not moving, but still have stuff you could get rid of, sell it! You'll be surprised at what people will buy from you. Take a second look at all of your clothes, shoes, electronics, and products and ask yourself if you really need it. Chances are, you don't, and you could really use the money instead! And with online marketplaces like kijiji and letgo, swapping things you don't use for cash has never been easier.

Look for freelancing gigs online

Don't have time for a second job but need the cash? Look for freelancing gigs online. Websites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour are always looking for talented writers, voice actors, editors, graphic designers, data entry clerks, and personal assistants, among other jobs. There’s never been a better time to turn your creative skills and personal passions into a profitable side hustle. 

Get rewarded for paying your bills

Mobile apps can be key when it comes to keeping track of your expenses. Paytm Canada allows you to pay your bills directly from your smartphoneAND earn points while you’re at it. With every transaction that you make in the app, you'll earn Paytm Points ($1= 1 Paytm Point) which you can redeem for just about everything from a free cup of coffee or groceries to a ride home or an Amazon subscription — plus so much more! You can pay your bills with a credit card, debit card, bank account or Paytm Cash — and avoid late fees when you schedule payments in advance.

Download the app today and you’ll collect 1,000 welcome points just for signing up. Plus,if you refer a friend, you’ll both get 5,000 points (which is basically a free $5 e-gift card) when they pay their first bill. They’ve partnered with brands like Uber, Amazon.ca, Tim Hortons, Esso, Hudson’s Bay and more, to bring you rewards you actually want. With Paytm, you don't have to cut back on getting the things you love — you can earn these rewards for free by managing and paying your bill in the app, which will help you save money in the long run!

The Paytm Canada mobile app is available to download for free from the Google Play Store and Apple Store. For more information about the Paytm app, visit www.paytm.ca and their Instagram!

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