Debt Reduction Advice- Tips To Help Your Finances
Do you like being in debt? If so, then this article isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you want to get out of debt, then keep reading. As you have probably found out by now, good debt reduction advice can be hard to come by. A lot of the suggestions being made are either flat out wrong or confusing. None of which is going to help you improve your financial situation.
The first thing you need to look at is who is giving the advice. Ask yourself what makes them qualified. If they have a professional certification of any kind, make sure it’s in the financial field. Debt reduction advice coming from a certified financial planner (CFP) carries more weight than that coming from a PhD. The other source of good advice comes from real people who were able to get out of debt on their own (in this case a PhD could be a could source).
One type of advice to really watch out for is the kind that is meant to be misleading in the hopes that you actually stay in debt even longer. This can be hard to spot, but if you ask yourself what the motive behind the advice is, then you should be able to weed out the majority of bad advice. Remember, this is your financial future you’re dealing with, so you need to take it seriously. Following bad advice will only make things worse, and who wants that?
When it comes to debt reduction advice, you need to look for two things:
1. Sound advice. This is advice that has been proven to work and is based on solid principles. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses, investing wisely, regular savings and budgeting are all basics of handling money. Generally speaking, people giving such advice know what they’re talking about.
2. Advice you can follow. Even the best advice is useless if you won’t follow it. For example, a lot of advisors will tell you to cut back expenses to the point of having no fun and getting no enjoyment out of life. Sure, the final reward of being financially free may be worth the deprivation, but if you can’t stick to the strict measures, then the advice is basically useless.
There are a few common threads that run through most bits of debt reduction advice, here are a few to get you started down the right path:
Make a budget. You need to account for every penny coming in and every penny going out. At this stage all you need to do is know where it’s all going. If you have more going out than coming in, then you will be going further into debt, and you need to fix it as soon as possible.
Stop! There’s an old saying that says if you’re in a hole than you need to stop digging. This applies perfectly to debt. If you have credit card debt, then stop using your cards. Sure, it’s basic debt reduction advice, but you may be shocked to learn how many people overlook these kinds of things.
Debt Reduction Advice That Really Works
Locating good debt reduction advice may end up being somewhat confusing for you if you want to lower how much personal debt you have. Too much of the available info makes it seem like it’s nearly impossible. Then you have those places who pretend their advice will help you get out of debt, but it’s actually designed to make stay in debt longer. There are also those who expect you to live on practically nothing. While most of them mean well, the truth is that they may not be good options for your current situation. That being said, the following advice will be able to help you get out of debt, regardless of which specific method you end up using.
The first thing you need to do is find out exactly where you stand financially. Start a spreadsheet or get a sheet of paper and write down all of your debts. Include every company and person you owe money to, including car payments, mortgage, personal loans, credit card balances, student loans and any bills that are past due. Next to each creditor, write down the total amount you owe, the minimum monthly payment, and the interest rate you are being charged.
Once the list is done, add up the totals in all but the interest rate column. You will now see the total amount of debt you currently owe, as well as the total minimum monthly payments you’re expected to make. The totals will probably shock you, but it’s important debt reduction advice because it shows you a realistic picture of how much debt you have.
The next step is to figure out how much money you have coming in and how much you are spending. Make a list of all of the income you have coming in on a regular basis, as well as any money you could easily get your hands on if you had to (but don’t touch any retirement savings). This gives you a better idea of how much you will be able to apply toward your debt, but there’s one more step…
You need to also write down all of your expenses. Don’t leave anything out. The more honest and accurate you are, the better. Once you see where all the money is going, you can start to see areas where you should be able to cut expenses.
The final bit of debt reduction advice is to put all of this data together to start reducing your debt. Free up as much money as you can and apply as much of it as you can toward the debt with the smallest balance (while paying the minimum amount on all others). With luck, you may even be able to pay it off right away. Each time you move on to the next debt, rollover the amount you were paying on the previous one. Keep doing this and you will be out of debt faster than you can imagine.
A Simple Debt Reduction Strategy
While big corporations may have good reasons for carrying a lot of debt, the average person does not. The sad truth is that debt is a growing problem, and people are having a hard time getting out of it. If this sounds familiar, then you are not alone. What you need is an effective debt reduction strategy.
One quick thing before we get started: being in debt isn’t your fault, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The financial industry has, for years, done everything in its power to put people deeper into debt. It may be legal and buried in the fine print, but it certainly isn’t ethical. The purpose of what follows is not to be judgmental in any way, but rather to offer you a way to get out of debt for good.
You need to know exactly where you stand financially. List all of your income, all of your expenses, and all of your debt. Be specific, and be honest; you need to account for every penny. When listing your debts, be sure to include the amount of principal, interest rates and any penalties that have been added on as this will help you with the next step in your debt reduction strategy.
Negotiating your debt may take some time, but it can help a lot. Call all of your creditors individually, and see if they can lower the amount you owe. Credit card companies will often forgive a late payment, or lower your interest rate, for nothing more than a simple request. This will work better if you have had a good payment history, even if you have missed a few recent payments. Not all of the companies you owe money to will agree, but every one that does will put a dent in what you owe.
Once you have negotiated a lower debt, your next step is to set up a payment plan. Almost all creditors are willing to do this, and most will be able to set up a plan that fits into your budget. If you are facing financial problems, be sure to let them know. A lot of companies have hardship programs they can offer you. These programs can drastically lower your interest rate, forgive penalties, or even freeze your account. You won’t be able to use the account during this time, and the hardship program may only last 6 to 12 months, but it can often give you the breathing room you need to get back on your feet.
Consolidating your debt is a solid debt reduction strategy, but it’s not for everybody. You have to be disciplined enough to not go further into debt because of it. What you do is combine all of your debts into one big loan, but at a much lower interest rate. The problem a lot of people have is that they pay so much less per month that they start running up their debt again. This is a vicious cycle, and they eventually end up in a situation they can’t get out of. Don’t make that same mistake. If you get a debt consolidation loan, then either save the extra money you now have, or apply it to your debt.
Best Debt Reduction Methods
Let’s be blunt…debt sucks! While that word may not be the most professional, it certainly sums it up quite nicely. The sad part is that being in debt isn’t really your fault. You had every intention of paying what you owe, but then something happened. Perhaps you had a medical emergency or you lost your job. Whatever the case may be, you are now looking for the best debt reduction method for your situation.
That’s an important thing to keep in mind: it’s your situation. Therefore, what may have worked for somebody else may or may not work for you. Their level of debt may differ, they probably have a different financial profile, and their money habits most likely vary from yours in one way or another. Of course, their method could work, but you should consider it carefully before you jump into it.
That being said, just about any type of debt reduction has the ability to work. The only thing that differs is the person trying to follow it. With that in mind, here are a few options for you to consider.
1. Debt consolidation. This is where you combine all of your various debt into one large debt. On the surface that may sound like you are only creating one big problem for yourself, but there’s more to it. The reason consolidating debt is such an attractive option is that you can get a lower, overall rate, and you will also have one payment to deal with instead of several. The downside is that you have to be disciplined enough with your money that you don’t start running up your debt again. If you can keep from doing that, then this may be a good choice for you.
2. Balance transfers. If you have a lot of credit cards with high interest rates, then transferring the balances to lower rate cards could be your best debt reduction option. You need to be careful to read all of the fine print. Some credit cards will charge you a fee for making a transfer to their card. Others will charge a low introductory fee, which will go up after a set amount of time. That doesn’t mean the offers are bad, but it does mean you need to understand all of the terms and conditions before making a transfer.
3. Debt settlement. If you have fallen way behind on making payments and your debt is spiraling out of control, then debt settlement may make more sense for you. You can do this yourself or hire a qualified agency to do it for you. The idea is that you (or your representative) will deal directly with each of your creditors to get them to lower how much you owe. It’s typical to save 25% to 50%, and that really adds up. Again, this is the best debt reduction for those who are far behind on their payments, as your creditors are willing to take a small loss on what you owe if they think you would otherwise not be be able to pay anything at all.
4 Steps To Consumer Debt Reduction
Let’s face it, the economy is not as strong as it could be, and while it’s struggling along, more and more people are finding themselves getting deeper and deeper into debt. The sad thing is that, most likely, none of this debt is your fault. After all, you need a place to live and food to eat, but circumstances beyond your control have now left you owing more money than you can pay back. However, consumer debt reduction may just be the silver lining you’ve been looking for.
Of course, there is more than one way to reduce your debt. Which one you choose will depend on your personality, as well as your current situation. That being said, here are some things you can do–whichever method you decide to use–to get yourself off to a strong start.
1. Know exactly where you are. It’s time for a gut check. You need to write down all of your debts, interest rates, household expenses, and any other money that is being spent. Be specific, and account for every single cent. Be sure to write down all of your income, and remember to list any liquid assets you may have that you can apply toward lowering your debt.
2. Set your priorities. You need a roof over your head, water, and food to eat, so those things should be your highest priority. Utilities and medication will also be near the top of the list for a lot of people. Next is a vehicle, especially if you live in the country, or have no other way of getting to work.
Does this mean you should give up all of the little “treats” in your life? Not necessarily, but you need to make sure the necessities are taken care of first. After that, you can start deciding which things are more important. Because we are talking about consumer debt reduction, it makes sense that the less necessary items should be the first to go. For example, do you really need the full satellite television package, or could you live with basic TV for a few months if it meant you could get out of debt?
3. Reduce the amount you owe. Yes, you will be chipping away at your debt with each payment you make, but we’re talking about reducing it all at once. The way you do that is by talking to each of your creditors. They may be able to forgive late fees, lower interest rates, or remove other arbitrary penalties. If they won’t do any of that, then you can always consider getting a debt consolidation loan which will have the same effect.
4. Increase how much you pay. The more you can pay toward your debt, the quicker it will be paid off. Now that may sound obvious, but the reason this is so important is that it negates the effect of compound interest. Depending on how much you owe, and the current interest rate, paying double the minimum payment could allow you to pay of your debt eight times faster! How’s that for consumer debt reduction in action?