Let’s face it: Debt sucks, and no woman wants to date a man dealing with it. Debt means you probably can’t go on nice dates and, if you do anyway, you’re not being smart with your money. Serious debt means you likely can’t afford gifts, vacations and, you know, getting a place together or starting a family someday. Plus, on a day-to-day basis, it’s just an ominous cloud hanging over your head.

But Marcus by Goldman Sachs, an online personal loan lender, says that “debt happens”—and not just to people who make poor financial decisions. Your water heater could suddenly break and you might need to drop a lot of dollars to fix it. Maybe you were in a horrible skiing accident and you’re still paying off the hospital bills. Maybe you’re in law or med school and will be paying off loans for at least a few years.

We caught up with personal finance expert Andrea Woroch, a Marcus by Goldman Sachs ambassador, to get tips on getting yourself out of debt, regardless of how you found yourself in it in the first place. Here are the biggest takeaways.

“By automating payments, you remove willpower from the equation, which may otherwise fail you. This also ensures you never miss the due date, which can result in late fees and more interest.”

1. Assess your budget and track spending habits.
“Calculate how much money you have coming in every month from your job (including other sources of income), then calculate how much you have going out in the form of bills, debt repayment and general spending,” Woroch advises. “Once you have a good grasp of what’s coming in and what’s going out, create a spreadsheet to record your spending and develop a budget. You can also utilize an app like Mint that links all your financial accounts in one place for a quick snapshot of your spending and saving habits. By tracking your spending, you can better identify where your money is going and which spending categories to adjust to free up funds for debt repayment, savings goals and more.”

2. Identify a debt-repayment method that works best for you.
“It’s important to review different approaches when paying down debt,” she adds. “Common methods include the snowball method, which focuses on paying off debt from the smallest balance to the largest balance.” This approach can help you build off the momentum of small victories when looking at tackling larger debts. On the flip side is the avalanche method: paying off debts with the highest interest rate first saves more money over time on interest charges.

3. Take out a personal loan.
“Another option is to consider consolidating debt by using a personal loan, which can help pay down debt faster,” Woroch recommends. “[It] could offer you a lower interest rate than higher interest credit cards to help you save money and pay off your debt faster.” Here’s where online lenders like Marcus by Goldman Sachs come in. Marcus offers fixed-rate, no-fee personal loans to consumers with good credit,” Woroch says. “It’s also easier to manage a single payment that is due on the same day every month, rather than managing multiple credit cards or other credit accounts that are due at different times.”

4. Automate payments.
“By automating payments, you remove willpower from the equation, which may otherwise fail you,” she notes. “This also ensures you never miss the due date, which can result in late fees and more interest. Aim to pay double to triple the minimum due.”

5. Go on a spending diet.
“Just like you may feel bloated after the holiday season from too many glasses of eggnog, your budget may be inflated from too many purchases or celebrations with friends,” Woroch explains. “Go on a spending diet by eliminating any unnecessary shopping and extra services such as car washes. You can reintroduce those that benefit you over time but, chances are, you will learn to live without them and save even more over the year. Put the extra money saved toward paying down debt faster.”

6. Explore ways to make additional dollars.
“Boost your budget to help pay down debt faster by selling unwanted items found around your home or gifts you don’t want,” she adds. “You may even consider looking for a side hustle. Freelance opportunities are available through sites like Upwork… For pet lovers, there are always dog-walking or pet-sitting gigs through Rover. You can even make money by taking surveys while watching TV or waiting for a flight to take off through sites like Swagbucks. Any extra dollars earned should be used to help pay off debt.” Because the sooner you escape it, the sooner you can get back to living free—and dating well, of course.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images Plus/SIphotography