In today’s consumer-based, credit-oriented economy, many people have a long-term goal of becoming debt free. Is it achievable for the average working person? The answer is yes. In fact, about 50 percent of all adults say they hope to achieve this financial aim before they retire. For consumers who are weighted down with a huge amount of monetary obligations, that dream seems like a fantasy. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s a brief rundown of what average working folks can do to eliminate all the red ink in their budgets by changing their attitudes and spending habits.

Temporarily Switch to a Cash-Only Budget

Credit counselors often put people on a cash-only financial diet until the worst situations have passed. This is a smart approach, especially for people who live on credit cards and haven’t used cash in years. The core strategy is to put the plastic away and not spend money on anything you can’t afford to pay cash for. Yes, it can be a bitter pill but it is a necessary one. And it won’t solve your money problems all by itself. Going cash-only will, however, give you some much-needed breathing room and stop the growth of the money hole.

Refinance Student Loans to Get Better Terms

Another piece of the strategy is refinancing. Like going card-less, this move alone won’t make you solvent overnight. What a renegotiated package can do is restructure what you owe so that payments and interest rates are lower.

One of the best things you can do to deal with massive financial problems like these is to restructure student loans. For young adults, these agreements are usually the major portion of their liabilities and can be overwhelming for twenty-somethings who don’t have the salary to handle the high interest charges and monthly payments. Refinancing student loans can offer the breathing room you need, more favorable interest rates and much better terms.

Always make sure to get solid advice from a loan counselor before opting for a refinance package. There’s no sense, for example, in trading a so-so loan for another mediocre arrangement that does you no good. Only make the switch if the new loan helps your overall financial situation.

Create a Specific Budget

Budgeting is where the attitude part of the equation comes into play. Work with a professional credit counselor to create a budget you can live with and which is detailed enough to leave no room for error. If you can’t find or afford a low-fee counselor, check with local non-profits that offer 30-minute sessions for people who need financial guidance.

Expect the first several months of your new lifestyle to be challenging. Most who opt for financial renewal programs find it most difficult to deny themselves all the daily purchases they had grown accustomed to. In situations where you could whip out a credit card and buy to your heart’s content, you’ll now have to check with the budget. The pain-reward tradeoff is weighted in your favor, and you’ll soon find yourself wondering how you lived any other way.