Don’t Let Debt Define You: The Ultimate Guide on Managing Debt

Did you know that three-quarters of people have debt when they die?

Debt is a common situation and many never find a break from their debt. In addition, debt comes in many forms — from mortgages to student loans, and even to multiple credit cards.

Even though most Americans have debt, it’s still a stressful and embarrassing fact.

That’s because debt interferes with many aspects of your life. Debt interferes with affording the things you need and want. You’re constantly juggling payments while trying to achieve the best financial health.

Fortunately, there are ways to control your debt. Here’s your guide on managing debt and some steps to get your finances in check.

Know How Much You Owe and Who You Owe

The first step in managing your debt is getting organized. Start by making a list. The two most important factors are knowing who you owe and how much. Write down these names and figures down on a list.

The information you write should include:

  • The debtor
  • Total amount due
  • Payment due dates
  • Your monthly payment

Other information will also benefit you. This includes your credit score, your monthly income, and how you can budget to make these payments.

And don’t take a look at your list only once. Refer to your list regularly and check your list each month. You can even write down your debt reduction to track your progress.

Create a Repayment Calendar

This list isn’t the only way to track your payments. You should also create a calendar that states your monthly payments and to whom you’re paying. This helps you keep organized and ensures you never miss a payment.

Make it a habit to track bill payment days at the beginning of each month. You’ll be able to organize how to pay each payment and can plan out each payment when you get paid.

Start Small

Managing debt doesn’t focus on the big picture. It focuses on the small steps you need to do to reduce your debt.

The most important step you can take is a pretty small one. Make each debt payment on time. Making the payments on time avoids the late fee and may even help your credit score.

While lenders only ask you to make the minimum payment, budget to make more. This way, you don’t worry about interest rates rising, increasing your debts even more.

Focus on Certain Debts First

No two debts are equal. Some debts require more attention than others. If you have debt from multiple sources, know which debts to pay off first.

Which debts should you pay off first? Take a look at the debts that have the highest interest rates. Credit cards are a perfect example. You should also take a look at the debts where you missed payments or the debts building up the most.

If it’s easiest, pay off the debt with the lowest balance first. That way, you don’t have to worry about those debts rising beyond your control.

What about the other debts? Just because you’re not focusing on them doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Only pay off the minimum for these debts.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Savings or Emergency Funds

Many people get into debt because they’re scared to tap into their savings. However, that’s what your savings are there for. If you let your debts rise while only paying the minimum payment, you’ll end up owing a lot more in the future.

If you have a decent amount of spare cash, use that toward your debt. That way, you’ll reduce your debt down or even tackle your debt problems altogether.

Keep in mind, it’s best to continue saving after you use your savings toward your debt. Make your priority paying off your debt. But take a small amount of each paycheck and set it aside for savings, even if it’s only $10.

Set a Monthly Budget Around Paying Off Your Debts

Many people don’t choose to be in debt. It just happens. You get student loans and struggle to pay them off. All of a sudden, your car breaks down and you need a new one.

After a few years of paying off two debts, you decide to buy a house and take a mortgage.

Now you have three debts. How do you keep track of all of these expenses while affording other necessities, such as food? Budgeting is key. Budgeting ensures you have enough money to cover all necessary expenses.

Many people set a budget each month but some people find it easier to budget with each paycheck or even budget per day. Any extra money should go toward paying off more of your debt, not toward spending or other luxuries.

Know When You Need to Borrow

No one likes admitting they need help to pay off their debts. But understand you have options.

Before signing up for a loan, ask family and friends for help. You’ll be surprised how many loved ones will be willing to lend a helping hand. Asking a particular person is difficult.

You can also start a crowdfunding campaign and asking several people to donate, even if it’s just a little bit.

If you have no luck asking loved ones or with crowdfunding, there are loan options available.

For example, Bonsai Finance offers an installment loan for those with bad credit. You can use a personal loan to pay off debts such as a credit card debt.

Managing Debt Is Difficult But Possible

Are you one of the many Americans in debt? Loans, credit cards, and other debts easily add up. Managing debt is difficult but it is possible. Use this advice to help reduce your debt.

And remember — you can learn a lot from the difficult times. Start by turning your life challenges into new opportunities. That’s what entrepreneur Donia Youssef teaches. Read this interview and get inspired to conquer life’s hardships!

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