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Debt Free by the End of the Year

Would you like to be debt free by January? The following tips may help you get started.

Nashville, Ark. – Can you believe there are only five months left in 2018? Would you like to be debt free by January? Is it even possible? It depends. However, there are four things you can do right now to tackle your debt and reach a savings goal.

            Debt can weigh heavily on your finances. It can cause havoc to your budget. Fortunately, there are some financial decisions you can make now to help you pay off debt and put money in savings. Here’s how

            How much do you owe? The first step in reducing debt is to know exactly how much you owe. Calculating your total debt will give you an idea of where you are starting and help you develop a plan of action.

            Start by listing who you owe (the creditor), the amount you owe, the minimum payment required, and the monthly due date. Be sure to include mortgage, car payments, credit cards, etc.

            Create a budget. A budget is one of the most effective ways to manage your finances. In a budget you have expenses and income. Begin by listing all your expenses, which will include rent or mortgage, utilities, food, insurance, and minimum payments on debt repayments. Also include how much you plan to put in savings. Even if it is only $5 you can allow to put in, it will add up. Once you know what your expenses are and how much income you have, do the math. Subtract your total expenses from your total income.

            Contact creditors for payment options. You may be able to negotiate a more affordable payment plan with your lenders. Student loans, for example, might offer an income-based repayment plan. If you have a large balance on a utility bill, most gas and electric companies can work with your to create a payment plan. You might also apply for levelized billing where your payments are the same each month. It may help with budgeting

            Set a goal and make a plan. Your first goal should be to pay off debt. People who have a plan are twice as likely to save successfully, but the same thing can be said for paying down debt. As you make payments on debt, plan to pay a little extra each month on your highest interest bills. For example, if you have a credit card that carries 21% interest, plan to pay extra on it if possible. Interest accrues each month so the longer you take to pay down your high interest debt, the more you’ll owe in the long run. Once you have it paid in full, you’ll have one less bill to worry about.

            Set a realistic timeline for paying down each bill and stick to it. This means not adding anything else to that bill (credit card) while you are paying it off. Even if you can’t pay extra, do make the minimum payments each month and on time to avoid late fees and damaging your credit score.

            For more information on handling debt, credit or setting up a budget, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7500 ext. 9 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. You may also want to check out the website for more information.

            Information for this article was adapted from the website “America Saves”. You can check this website out at

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a great recipe for hot summer days. You will have to eat it quick due to the ice cream, but that’s not a problem since it is so delicious! Lily Trombley, a member of the Nature Seekers 4-H Club won 1st place in the Howard County Dairy Foods Competition.

Butterfinger Ice Cream Cake

18 graham crackers

¼ c. sugar

5 Tbsp. melted butter

1 bag snack-sized Butterfingers

½ gallon vanilla ice cream

1 c. whipping cream

2 Tbsp. sugar

            Set ice cream on counter. Crush graham crackers and mix with butter and sugar. Press into bottom of 11x7-in. pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

            Crush Butterfingers. Mix with ice cream reserving a few for topping. Once crust is cool, spread ice cream over crust. Allow to set at least 6 hours. Mix whipping cream with sugar. Spread over top and freeze at least one hour until ready to serve.


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7500 ext 9


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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