Being debt-free is a worthy aim; sadly, it is impossible for the majority of individuals, particularly those approaching retirement age with children, a vehicle payment or two, and a home. As such, the majority of individuals should prioritize debt management first, as it is likely to accompany them throughout the majority of their adult lives. With inflation on the increase (and accompanying interest rate hikes), it may become even more difficult to repay your credit card debt.
Debt elimination is critical for everyone approaching retirement age. The good news is that when debt is managed prudently, you won’t have to pay your lender every cent of your hard-earned money in interest or feel constantly on the point of bankruptcy.
Here’s how you pay off debt intelligently while still saving money to pay it off faster:
EXAMINE EACH DEBT
To begin, determine the amount and kind of debt you owe by either writing it down with a pencil and paper or putting the data into a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. If you are primarily concerned with student loan debt, you may also use a bookkeeping tool such as Quicken or a debt management app such as Debt Manager, Debt Payoff Planner, or ChangEd. When compiling or entering your list, be sure to include any instances in which a company has provided you with something in advance of payment, such as your mortgage, car payment(s), credit card(s) (all of them), tax liens, student loans, Paypal Credit, and store payments or cards used at stores such as Home Depot or Best Buy.
Keep track of the date the debt began and the date it will be paid off (refer to your credit card records), the interest rate you are paying, and your regular payment schedule. Then, as hard as it may be, total everything up – try not to get disheartened. Bear in mind that the idea is to divide this down into manageable portions while also obtaining more funds to assist in paying it off.
Ascertain that the debt creditors claim you owe is, in fact, the debt they claim you owe and that the amount is accurate. If you have a problem with a creditor, you should first contact the creditor directly to settle your concerns. If you continue to have concerns about the debt, call your state or local consumer protection agency or, in severe situations of creditor abuse, your state Attorney General.
If you are having problems paying your payments, call each creditor and inform them of your situation. Inform them of your situation – perhaps you’ve suddenly lost your job or are facing unforeseen medical expenditures. Negotiate a reasonable payment arrangement with your creditors. The majority of people will cooperate with you and will appreciate your candor and forthrightness.
RECOGNIZE HIGH-COST DEBT
Even if you have not lost your work or become ill as a result of COVID-19, it never hurts to prioritize which debts are the most expensive and pay them off first. Withdrawing funds from low-interest accounts to pay off high-interest loans or credit card debt is frequently prudent.
Additionally, there are numerous options to consolidate high-interest debt, such as credit cards, through refinancing or consolidation loans, such as a second mortgage. Bear in mind, however, that second mortgages significantly raise the danger of losing your property.
Unless you’re taking out payday loans (which you should avoid! ), the worst culprit is consumer debt, which includes personal loans, vehicle loans, and high-interest credit cards. Credit cards are the simplest to manage, so begin with those. How to cope with them is as follows:
• Avoid their usage. You are not required to cut them apart; simply remove them from your wallet, store them in a drawer, and use the one with the lowest interest rate only in an emergency.
• Identify the card with the highest interest rate and pay as much as possible each month on that card, while paying the minimum balance due on all other cards. Once that one is paid off, focus your efforts on the card with the next highest interest rate.
Check the balance transfer rates on your credit cards and move balances from higher-interest accounts to lower-interest ones. When you spend less interest on your debt, you may pay it off faster. The caveat is that once the balance transfer period expires (usually six to twelve months), the low or, in some cases, zero interest rate reverts to a higher credit card interest rate.
• Avoid closing current credit cards or opening new ones. It will have no beneficial effect on your credit rating and will only serve to harm it.
• Always pay on time. Even a single late payment might reduce your FICO score.
• Carefully review your credit card bills and search for monthly costs for items you no longer use or require.
• Contact your credit card issuers and politely request that they cut your interest rates – this does work occasionally!
Be suspicious of loan consolidations or other refinancing arrangements that actually raise the amount of interest owing or involve the payment of points or other hefty costs.
SUBSIDIZE YOURSELF AND SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
Make every effort to pay off debt, even if it requires reevaluating your objectives and altering your lifestyle. Consider taking on a second job and using the additional money only to meet your financial responsibilities. Substitute free family activities with others that are more expensive. Sell goods of great worth that you can live without.
The IRS estimates that the average tax refund this year will be $3,536. If you anticipate a sizable (or even a negligible) tax refund this year, consider using it to pay down debt. If you feel in control of your debt, use your windfall to boost your emergency fund or contribute to a retirement account.
Develop a spending strategy that will enable you to pay down your bills. Make a list of your basic costs, such as housing and healthcare, as well as your discretionary spendings, such as entertainment and vacation trips. Adhere to the strategy. Leaving your credit cards at home is a good idea. Develop the practice of paying for things with cash or a debit/credit card. If you do not have the cash (or the funds in your bank account) to purchase it, you most likely do not need it. You’ll feel better about your possessions if you know they are legally yours.
Eliminate any needless expenditures, such as dining out and pricey entertainment. Consider your purchase of the latest high-tech equipment. Do you really require the most recent iPhone? You’ll be shocked at how much you overlook. Consider purchasing a used car, canceling the pricey gym membership that you no longer use, borrowing DVDs from the public library, or subscribing to a video streaming service in lieu of going to the movies – at least until your debt is under control.
NEVER, EVER DEFAULT ON A PAYMENT
Not only are you paying off debt, but you’re also improving your credit score. If you ever want to change jobs, purchase a home, rent an apartment, or purchase another automobile, you’ll want to have the finest credit possible. Spotless payment history will aid in this endeavor. Additionally, credit card firms have the ability to immediately increase interest rates in response to a single late payment, and a completely missing payment is far more catastrophic.
NEED ASSISTANCE MANAGING DEBT?
While each of these procedures may seem little in isolation, if you implement as many as possible, you will see your debt drop each month. If you’re suffering financial difficulties, want assistance managing debt, or require guidance on how to recession-proof your money, assistance is just a phone call away.