About a quarter of my mortgage practice consists of people who come to ask advice and help around paying off debt. Considering that a mortgage is normally a person’s largest liability, there are a couple of simple things you can do if you’re carrying balances on credit cards, or lines of credit.

As companies and people adjust to an ever changing economy, consumer debt has steadily increased. The majority of individuals carry balances on credit cards and lines-of-credit from month-to-month.

A financial focus to pay off debt in 2016 will give your personal balance sheet a boost and increase your net worth.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Pay off higher-interest debt first

Paying-off higher interest debt first such as credit cards is a good approach to paying down consumer debt. The interest rates on credit cards is normally much higher than on debt that is secured by a property (such has a mortgage) or a loan on a vehicle. The reason is that the greatest incidence on credit defaults occurs on credit cards.

If you have a budget that’s aggressive to allow you to pay-off the debt in a few months, you may want to consider consolidating all your debt onto the card or line-of-credit that has the lowest interest because it will save you money. However, beware of credit-cards that offer low-interest payments for the first months.

2. Pay off debt that has the highest payments first

A positive cash flow is the most important aspect of an individual or family’s financial health. The reason why people don’t pay off their credit facilities every month is because they spend more than they make. A simple family budget can help you eliminate this trend. Another approach to paying-off debt is to review all the monthly payments on your credit facilities and look at paying off the ones with the highest payments first. This approach will help you improve your family’s cash flow until you have paid-off all your debt.

3. Consolidate debt into a lower-interest mortgage

If you’re still finding that you can’t pay-off your outstanding debt in six months, consider wrapping it into your mortgage. There will often be a penalty to pay, even if you go with the financial institution that you have your mortgage with. However, it makes sense if you are paying-off high-interest debt.

If this is the approach you’re going to take, ensure you speak to both a mortgage broker and a bank and look for options that can help you pay-off the debt. The mortgage professional should also advise you on a family budget and how to structure it so that you don’t run into the same situation again.

The benefits of paying-off consumer debt are that it will allow you to increase your credit score and put you in a better financial position.