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Getting Out of Debt Strategies
There are almost as many ways to get out of debt as there are for getting into debt. Many people think they need to get debt consolidation loans, credit counseling, settle their debt, or even file for bankruptcy as a means to get out of debt. Many times those strategies are not necessary and some may cause more harm than good. Effective getting out of debt strategies should always be designed to help reduce your overall balances and help you regain control of your finances.
Unfortunately, there are some companies that consider debt reduction to mean ‘avoiding paying off your financial responsibilities completely’. While these types of debt relief programs have their place, they also have drawbacks and disadvantages that could make your financial situation even worse in the long run. They also don’t teach you anything about managing your finances responsibly, so you’re likely to end up in the same situation again in the near future.
Serious getting out of debt strategies should focus on teaching you to take responsibility for your own financial situation. After all, if you can manage to repay your debts on your own, you will have learned a valuable skill that will help to stop you getting into the same position again in future.
Understand Your ‘Why?’
If you don’t have a strong reason for why you want to get out of debt, you risk losing motivation and falling back into your old habits. You might decide you’re sick of making high repayments every month. You could be trying to get rid of useless debt in order to buy a home or you might simply want the freedom to not have to work so hard to keep up with debt payments. It’s important to think of a strong reason that will help to keep your motivation levels high even when things get tough. Ask yourself the real reason you want to get out of debt and then look closely at why you haven’t done it sooner.
Create a Plan
Your debt reduction strategy needs to work for your financial circumstances. There’s no point in creating a plan that says you’ll pay $500 a week off each of your balances if it’s not realistic for your income. Begin your plan by writing down all your current debts. You should list your balances, the amount of interest you’re being charged, your repayment amount and the creditor’s name. Circle the debt that is charged the highest amount of interest.
If your current credit allows it, see if you’re eligible to transfer the balance of one or more credit cards to an account with lower interest charges. This won’t help you to reduce your debt – in fact, it may even increase it a little – but you should find that your repayment amounts drop.
No More Credit
If you want to reduce debt balances, then you need to stop adding more debt to them. Stop using your credit cards. Don’t charge new items or purchases to credit. Don’t apply for more credit. The object is to get out of debt, not add to it.
Now that you should have reduced your repayment amounts a little, be firm about continuing to pay the same amount you were paying previously on the higher interest accounts.
Most getting out of debt strategies tell you to pay extra on the minimum payment, but they don’t usually tell you how. By reducing your minimum repayment amount and then continuing to pay the same amount you were paying before, you’re making voluntary extra repayments onto your balances that will reduce them quickly.
Getting out of debt strategies sound so easy when you’re reading them, but always remember that you need to be patient and give your plan time to work. When those balances are gone and the repayments stop for good, you’ll be glad you stuck to your plan.