If you’re like many other people and you find yourself having too much month left at the end of your money, then you’re in the right place. All is not lost; there are ways in which you can turn your situation around. The purpose of this article is to give you some insight into the things you need to do and the options that you have.
Yes, options. There are a number of ways to tackle virtually any problem. Realizing that actually leads us to the first and most basic debt reduction strategy:
- Develop a budget! What you’re actually doing here is tracking your money, both incoming and outgoing. You’re studying the problem, looking for the most troublesome areas. You may not even need any further debt reduction action than this. Developing a budget helps you to change your mindset about money; it forces you to live below your means instead of beyond them, and that translates into to saving money. By all means, regardless of the debt reduction strategies that you choose to employ, implement this one first!
- Sell some assets to pay down your debt. Do you know how much money is made on eBay yearly? Billions! You may have a closet full of things that could bring you some extra capital to help get those debts under control. Who knows, you may even wind up starting a part-time business.
- Pay more than the monthly minimum on your credit cards. If you can pay more than the minimum monthly payments, do it, continuously. As a matter of fact, do it with all of your debt that you can afford to. Pay more toward your higher-interest cards first.
- Restructure your mortgage payments. By using a simple Bi-Weekly mortgage system to make your mortgage payments you can drastically reduce the total amount of interest that you pay while significantly reducing the time that it takes to pay off your mortgage.
- Refinance. If you own your own home the lowest interest rates are obtainable by refinancing for an amount to pay off your existing mortgage (if there is one) and your other debts. If you want to keep your current mortgage because you can’t get a lower rate or it has a prepayment penalty, then opt for a home equity loan or line of credit to pay off your other debts. These are the classic debt consolidation loans.
- A loan secured on other personal property. If you have an expensive car or boat that you have equity in, consider a loan secured by that asset to get the funds you need to pay down your debts.
- An unsecured loan. If you don’t have any other property or assets, an unsecured loan may be an alternative. An unsecured loan usually has a shorter term, normally with a maximum of 7- to 10 years. The monthly payments will therefore be higher, but the debt principal will also reduce more quickly. Because there is no security you should expect to pay a higher interest rate. Unsecured personal loans generally require good credit in order to obtain.
- If all else fails, there’s still the credit card option. This one is last on the list for a reason. If your debts are relatively low and you still have pretty good credit, apply for another card with a 0% or low-interest balance transfer feature. Try to get a 0% balance transfer card if you can realistically pay off all or most of the debt within the balance transfer period. If you think that there will still be a substantial amount of debt at the end of the transfer period, then opt for a card with a permanently low interest rate. And to ensure that you don't slip back into the same debt trap, cut up all those credit cards and close their accounts.
Debt consolidation loans are only one way to get out of debt. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may not have to go that far. But you won’t really know until you sit down and take stock of your situation. A good, realistic budget will help you do that. Remember, the best way to get out of and stay out of debt is to change your habits.