It's easy to get into debt and it's much more difficult to pull yourself out of it.
In fact, in the majority of U.S. states — a whopping 35 of them — debt is the No. 1 cause of financial stress, according to a recent survey by GOBankingRates of more than 7,000 adults in across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
That stress is for good reason: Americans hold a collective $1.021 trillion in credit card debt, and it's growing. "America's credit card balances have never been higher, but there's no reason to think they won't just keep climbing," says Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com's senior industry analyst. "Combine that with steadily rising interest rates and you have a potentially volatile mix."
But kicking debt to the curb is easier said than done. If you're struggling to jump start your payments, learn from those who have been there and done that. Below are five proven strategies for eliminating debt, gleaned from real people who have paid off thousands.