Getting out of debt is one of the most common goals people set at the start of a new year. Since it seems to be one of the top financial goals at the beginning of every year, it’s a safe assumption that many of this year’s would-be debt crushers have been down this path before.

What if this is the year you actually do get out of debt, and what if you do so in a way that helps you stay out of debt forever?

I once had $20,000 of credit-card debt, so I know the pain of being buried in bills. Thankfully, I also know the joy of successfully navigating the journey out of debt. Here is a tried-and-true eight-step formula for ditching your debt once and for all.