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Debt is no stranger to most people. In fact, according to the Federal Reserves, the average American household carries a little over $137,000 in debt. What’s even more surprising is that the median household income is around $59,000, showing that most people are living well beyond their means.
No matter if you have a little bit of debt or a lot, there’s no better time than now to tackle the problem. Continue reading to learn the five financial rules of managing your debt so you can live life in the positive.
1. Track and Manage Your Spending
One of the best tips to Get out of Debt is to track and manage your spending habits. Continuing to live beyond your means will only increase the amount of debt you have.
To manage your spending and to cut back on frivolous purchases, create a budget and track what you spend money on for a few months. With this information, you can figure out where you’re spending money excessively along with areas where you can cut spending.
With a budget, you can determine how much income you have coming in, how much money needs to go towards debt and bills, and then how much is left over to put into savings, your emergency fund, or even towards retirement.
When managing your spending, you’re automatically able to better manage your debt. Once you have a clear idea of how much income you have vs. how much debt you must pay each month, you can shift money around to ensure you’re paying more than the minimum while also putting money aside.
2. Write Down Your Debt
For many people, it’s hard to visualize their debt and how much they’ve actually accrued until they see everything put together. For most of us, debt is just a number on our mobile phone or computer screen. To get a good idea of how much debt you owe to creditors, take the time to write everything down. Your list should include:
- Who you owe money to (creditor’s name)
- How much money you owe
- Minimum payment due
- Interest rate
- Payment due date
With this information, you can devise a plan of attack. For example, if you only owe $1,000 on a credit card, you may decide to pay that off first so you can dedicate more money towards other debt. On the other hand, you may see that you have a credit card with a 25% interest rate while others have much lower rates. Paying off this high-interest rate card first will save you money in the long run as less of your money will be going towards interest.
There’s no wrong or right method of paying off debt. What’s important is that you find an option that works best for your financial situation.
3. Create a Payment Schedule
With a full list of your debt, you can create a payment schedule. This is a calendar that allows you to see when debt payments are due and how much you owe on a certain day. With a payment calendar, you can ensure that you’re always making payments on time and that you’re paying the proper amount. Making a late payment or paying less than the minimum due usually results in fees.
Another option similar to a payment schedule is to sign up for automatic payments. Most credit card companies and banks offer automatic payments so you’ll never have a missed payment again. Automatic payments are usually free to schedule and can be updated as needed.
4. Increase Your Income
Let’s be honest, sometimes a single job doesn’t pay the bills as nicely as we’d like it to. The good news is that in today’s digital world, there are all sorts of ways to make money without having to pick up a second full-time or part-time job.
Learn more about the world of side hustles to supplement your income. You can make money each week by creating web content, writing online reviews for products, or by selling items that you can make at home for a low cost.
With a side hustle, you can increase your income without feeling overworked. The money made from your side hustle should go directly towards debt. Extra payments towards a loan or credit card can save you months of payments, saving you money in the long run.
5. Get Help if You Need It
Sometimes tackling debt can feel impossible. If you’re struggling to make the minimum payments or to make payments on time, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed asking for help. Taking action as soon as possible is the best option.
Depending on the type of debt you have, there are many options to ease repayment woes. For student loans, you may qualify for forbearance or deferment. If you’re having trouble paying a mortgage, you may be able to work out a more affordable payment plan.
Managing debt can be frustrating. There’s nothing worse than knowing that you got yourself into your financial situation but not knowing exactly how to get out of it. By using these five financial rules, you can better manage your debt and work your way towards being debt free.