The consumer debt situation has grown unabated for close to two and half decades. The average credit card debt in America is $9,000 and the overall debt is even higher. The majority of the consumer debt is made up of credit card debt. The debt situation is getting worse every day but the debt is not insurmountable. The debt situation can be controlled and reversed if you put into place fiscal discipline and strict debt restructuring.
Here are five steps you can take to manage debt, irrespective of how insurmountable it may seem:
1. Evaluate your debt
Before starting out on your quest to wipe out your debt, find out how much you owe and any accompanying interest rates, fees, and penalties. It is important that you write down all of your outstanding balances and the interest rates of each credit card and loan. This exercise builds the foundation for your debt management strategy. Unless you know what you owe, how can you start paying it off?
2. Differentiate good debt from bad debt.
Not all debt is the same. Your mortgage home loan or student loans are examples of good debt because you borrowed to help build your future wealth. Also, with good debt the assets you purchase will long outlast the debt. For it is, your university education paves the way for you to earn money for your entire working lifetime.
On the other side of the same coin is bad debt. Bad debt usually has one common theme, huge interest rates which are a premium in borrowing. Unlike good debt, bad debt looses value over time. Generally, credit debt tops the list of bad debts which is then followed up by auto loans.
3. Hold down the fort
Stop using your credit cards. Unless you stop using your credit cards and stop adding to the existing debt, you cant chip away at your debt successfully. If you do need to use your card, keep one card in your wallet for emergencies only. Except for your emergency card, place the rest of your cards in a closet or cut them up. Whatever you do, dont cancel your cards, doing so can negatively affect your credit score and credit report.
4. Negotiate with your creditors
Call your creditor and negotiate with them lower interest rates. If you have a good credit history, creditors are more likely to negotiate with you. If it doesnt work out then try doing a balance transfer to a 0% or a lower interest rate card. It is wise to do the balance transfer only if you can pay off the entire debt during the introductory period. Always pay down your highest interest rate cards first.
If you are unable to do a balance transfer then seek out debt consolidation, credit counseling, or debt counseling services.
5. Manage your debt
It is imperative that you become financially disciplined if you are ever to get out debt. Getting out of debt serves a short-term purpose only. You can only be financially independent and fiscally responsible in the future by controlling your debt. Start cash flow and budget worksheets. By tracking your monthly worksheets see where your money is going and how much you have left over at the end of the month. The cash you have left over at the end of the month can go towards expunging your debt.
You might be surprised to see what your expenses are every month. Remember, by doing regular budgeting and being financially disciplined you can manage your debt.