Now that the holiday season is over, the credit card bills are coming due — about $52 billion spent over just the Black Friday weekend. A primary rule of debt consolidation is not to get hung up on what you did, but on what you can do about it now.
Look Your Debt in the Face
First, take an inventory of just how bad the situation really is. Sit down and list out everyone you owe money to and make note of the interest rates. That will let your prioritize your debt from most to least expensive.
Your first task is to take care of your credit card debt. If possible, combine all of the balances on the card that has the lowest rate so you’re only looking at one monthly payment. And then discipline yourself not to add to the debt. Pay with cash only, or with a card you know you can keep at a balance of zero monthly.
You Need a Plan to Reduce Your Debt
Debt management is about organizing your obligations and conceiving of a plan to reduce them. For many years, people have turned to refinancing their mortgage and using the equity they hold in their homes to resolve more pressing debts.
Unfortunately, with the collapse of the real estate market and the mortgage crisis, that line of credit is now hard, if not impossible, to access for many people. Many good, hardworking folks are struggling under debt loads that may take a lifetime to resolve.
Loan Consolidation May Be the Answer
Debt consolidation and loan consolidation are greatly misunderstood terms and a vast negative mythology has built up around the process. Even if you are afraid, there is some wisdom in the strategy “do it afraid.”
Seeking a consultation for loan consolidation does not mean you have to move forward with the process. It does mean you will have an offer on the table to consider. Do not lose sight of the fact that debt consolidation professionals may be able to negotiate with your creditors for a better interest rate or for an extension on the life of the loan.
Having One Monthly Payments Lets You Budget
It is a major advantage to face a single monthly payment, because you can budget for that amount and not be constantly shifting money around to meet obligations with a sense of desperation.
One thing is for certain. The end of 2011 showed that consumers have not yet learned their lesson when it comes to the heavy burden of credit card debt. As those bills are coming due in January and February, many will realize they are worse off than they were before the spending urge hit. Loan consolidation and a healthy dose of discipline for the New Year are likely now in order.