Financial stress keeps many a couple up at night. More couples file for divorce over financial problems than infidelity! When we lie down at night, that is when we are supposed to be getting a good nights sleep. But many times our mind dwells on how we will pay this or that bill.
And now with Christmas just around the corner, more and more people are calling the office looking for small loans that will help them thru the upcoming holidays.
Here are tips you can start to implement TODAY for gradually start paying down your credit card debt.
1. Make a list of all your unpaid credit card charges.
You want to make sure you take note of :
- how much you owe each lender
- what the rate of interest is
- the date that payment is owed
Contact your card issuers and request a credit rate decrease. Tell them that you are considering moving the balance owed to a credit card with a lower interest rate. Most of the reps will be able to lower the rate while you are still on the phone!
For those creditors that will not lower the interest rate charged put a star by them. If the interest rate being charged is high, they will definitely need to be consolidated or moved to a lower interest card
2. Determine how much of your income can be allocated for settling your credit card debt, either in one full-swoop or gradually.
How much of your income can you put towards paying off your debts on a monthly basis? Do you have enough in savings to just pay everything off and then focus on rebuilding your savings?
Paying debt off in one lump payment
Do you have access to things like a 401k savings program? A lot of people tap into these funds to pay off their debt. But you have to really think long and hard about this. My sister did this with the thought that she would “replace the money” by putting more away each month for the next few years. Well, its been 5 years and she hasn’t “replaced” any of the money she took out of her 401k.
Yes, she got out of a really bad situation quickly. But, she now has very little saved for retirement. She still has 20 years before reaching 65. So there is hope. But who really wants to work up until they are 65?
Home Equity Loans
If you are a homeowner, this is a good way to go. Since they are secured by your home, the interest rates are very low. In fact, rates are so low right now that if you have the equity, and have a good job. Getting a home equity loan or line of credit is a great way to get out of debt!
The difference between a home equity loan and a line of credit is that a line of credit is revolving, like a credit card. Meaning you can use it, pay it off and have the full amount available for use if another emergency arises.
Paying debt off gradually
This is the route most people take. It takes longer and you feel the stress longer. But in the long run, this is a better option then tapping into your 401k.
3. Identify which debts are good and which are bad.
Why is this important? Well, by distinguishing the good from the bad, you can easily work your way towards settling the credit accounts which impose the steepest rates of interest and those which might entail a huge risk of not getting paid off.
According to finance experts, mortgages, student loans as well as car loans are often considered good debts, whereas revolving lines of credit, like credit cards are deemed to be bad debts.
4. Come up with a suitable strategy for paying down your debt.
The next thing you should do is to think of a technique that will allow you to pay off your financial obligations, without spending way too much cash.
For example, you may decide to settle first the charges on the credit cards that carry the highest rates of interest. By doing so, you can save much on your interest payments, in the long run. Or you may opt to pay first the credit card, which has the lowest balance, before moving up or down your list.
No matter which strategy you will employ, just be sure that its something you can do on an ongoing basis. You don’t want to get started and then have to quit midway thru because you are cash-strapped.
Ideally, you should be able to set this on auto-pilot. With a set amount going to repayment each month. And then if there is anything left over, you can allocate that too to paying down debt.
5. Be ready to cut corners from your personal or household budget, especially if you wish to increase the payments you submit to your card issuer.
Identify products or services you can live without. And get rid of them from your monthly budget. By doing so, you can free up funds you can eventually use not just for paying down your debts, but also for setting aside cash for emergencies. When we decided to get serious, we dropped:
- Cable tv – we have Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime (comes free with your Prime membership) – All streaming services costing us around $20 a month instead of over $100
- Monthly car washing membership – we were only using it once a month anyway
- Both gym memberships and went with the YMCA. Not as nice as our gym but surprisingly well equipped and even had aqua aerobics classes!
- We recently got MoviePass – it’s a company that for $9 a month allows you to see 1 movie a day in the theaters. We now see 2 – 3 movies a month! It cost us $18 (1 membership per person)
- Use coupons – don’t be shy! I actually have friends that won’t use them. But when you walk out of the store w/ everything you need AND you saved $10.. well thats a pretty good ROI when you think that you paid $4 for the newspaper. I keep mine in an envelope in the car. That way when I walk into the store I just grab them. When I clip my coupons I organize them by what they are and separate them using paperclips. I have a paperclip for food, toiletries, household cleaning supplies etc.
6. Look for more ways to make money.
Sometimes the only thing we can do is make more money if we want to make ends meet. You may want to look into getting a PT job. If childcare is an issue, you have to make sure you are making more than what you will spend in childcare. Also, you have to think of your quality of life. We had friends that when it came down to how much they were REALLY making after paying childcare it was close to $2 an hour. Do you really want to take time away from your family for $2 an hour?
Is a business opportunity for you? Running your own business is part of the American dream. But not all people are cut out for it. If you are considering buying into a business opportunity keep these things in mind:
- Do you believe in the product? It doesn’t matter how much you can potentially make. If you don’t believe in the product, it will show. You will also hesitate in promoting it. Find something you use, love, and would recommend to friends and family even if you were NOT being paid to do it!
- Can you work independently? You need to be a self-starter. Think about your why. And let that be your motivation. Don’t look for outside sources like your upline sponsor to build YOUR business.
- Are you good with following up with people? When we started our side hustle, that was the hardest part. I would follow up once or twice and never again. It is said that someone needs to see your offer 5 -7 times before they seriously start to think about buying. Thankfully you can use services like Aweber to build a mailing list and to keep your potential clients up to date with your offer and any specials you may be running.
Getting out of debt can be hard. And in the beginning, be a little overwhelming. But as time goes on and you start to see the results. You will be glad you started!