Debt. Who doesn’t have debt? Barely anyone I know! However, debt can be controllable, or it can be over-whelming. Which category of debt are you in? If you’re ready to take charge of your debt and get in control of your finances, here’s how to do it.
Add Up Your Total Debt – Yes, put it all on paper and figure out exactly how much you owe. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power. The first step to debt freedom is knowing how much you owe and who you owe it to. Don’t leave anything out, and more importantly, don’t freak out when you see the bottom line!
Stop Spending – In case that was difficult to understand, let me put it another way – Stop Spending Money! Take the time to figure out exactly where your money is going and cut out what is not necessary. Many will be almost shocked to see where their money is going. The good news is that by simply finding out where you spend, you have also found places to cut back.
Repay Your Debt – This is the hard one, but you need a plan of repayment for the debt you have. More importantly, don’t take on more debt during this time. Your primary goal now is to pay off the debt you currently owe to others. Contact your creditors to see if you can work out a lower interest rate or a more suitable payment plan, but get that debt paid off. Remember, this will not happen over-night, but as each outstanding debt gets paid off, you will feel financially lighter!
Create a Monthly Plan and Budget – A healthy financial budget will have you spending no more than 35 percent on a mortgage (or rent), 15 percent on vehicles and gas (don’t forget insurance), 10 percent to savings, 15 percent to paying off debt, and 25 percent on your future. Figure out what you bring in each month then distribute your funds to each category. Stick to your budget.
Make a Priority List of Your Debts – Secured debts (as in loans attached to your home or car) come first. Pay these bills on time all the time as well as your utility bills and necessary expenditures (like doctor visits, etc). Second is the government. Make sure your taxes are paid. Unpaid taxes can cause some real havoc down the road so take care of it now. Lastly, pay towards your credit card bills. As stated previously, take the time to contact the credit card companies. Many will work with you as far as interest rate and repayment options.
Earn More Money – Simple, but there are only so many hours in the day, aren’t there? Any opportunity to bring in a little extra cash to the household is worth it.
Tough Love and Tough Choices – If bringing in more money isn’t an option, but you can’t cut it financially with the amount of income already coming in, you may need to make some tough decisions. A less expensive place to live is one option. Perhaps only one car payment may be a needed alternative until you are financially stable again.
Save, Save, Save – A little bit of money can sure add up. Just think, if you can muster up $10 a day to save and can get 8 percent interest, you will have $57,000 in ten years! In twenty years, you will have $180,000! All that off $10 a day! Keep in mind that a $10 a day investment is an investment into you and your future! To me, that is the best investment of all!
With some time and effort, as well as this step-by-step plan of action, you can be on the road to seriously regain control of your finances and debt. There is no better investment than that of you and your family. Start today!