Debt is fun, honestly. Wait – that sounds weird, let’s clarify: The things you do to generate debt are usually fun; that vacation in the Bahamas, that extra jet ski, even the addition to the house for your wife’s art studio or your husband’s new home gym he may or may not ever use. But debt relief? Now THAT is where the real workout begins.
It can take only days or weeks to gain the debt, but dig in – paying off debt with a predatory loan is never the “quick fix” you think it is. It’s better to explore these debt relief tips below and put a real game plan together to lift the burden and repair your credit score.
Stop Creating More Debt (DUH)
Over here at Golden Financial Services, we’re not huge fans of cliches and bad puns, mostly because debt is all too real to us when we have conversations with customers and clients. But sometimes the no-brainers bear repeating. If you felt a sense of helplessness or urgency reading the headline of this section, it’s likely we’re talking to you on this one.
Short of freezing your credit as a last resort, you may want to seek help from publications online, or even seeing a therapist as addiction to shopping (Oniomania) and spending is a real affliction affecting millions of Americans. For those that have a full handle on their spending habits and simply let themselves get way over-extended, read on.
Ways to Increase Your Monthly Payments Without Pay Increase
Cut down to minimal levels of each necessity. This includes reducing the data plan on your cell phone, reducing or removing cable television in favor of minimal subscription services, opening windows and doors for airflow instead of using central air, reducing the amount of times you eat out or buy pre-packaged meals, reducing travel for gas costs and lodging costs, amongst other things.
Dave Ramsey lists some additional tips in this regard if you are struggling for other ideas.
Building an Emergency Fund
You may be thinking, “How can I build an emergency fund when I’m already just starting the methods above while struggling to pay my debt?” We would counter with another question, “How do you plan to cover the emergency without the necessary funds? A loan?” That loan is going to make your debt rise even higher, making matters worse. According to The Balance, “The ideal emergency fund is six to twelve months of living expenses, but focus on building up at least $1,000 in the short-term.”
Explore Debt Relief Programs, Know What You’re Dealing with
Golden Financial offers these debt relief programs, but we do it in a way that is 100% transparent, and we take the time to explain your options. NerdWallet has some additional insights here on the subject that are worth the read. Here are the basics:
“Be sure you understand — and verify — these points before entering any agreement:
- What you need to qualify
- What fees you will pay
- Which creditors are being paid, and how much; if your debt is in collections, make sure you understand who owns the debt so payments go to the right agency
- The tax implications”
Making a Plan
If you are on this step in the debt reduction process, you have met with some hard truths and taken a deep breath. Next, it’s time to first calculate your total debt. Once you have this hard number ready, the next step is to put the debt into a budget calculator, where you can see side by side your debt to income, and the ground you will have to cover.
The Debt Snowball Payment Method
There are many different strategies to paying off debt, some work, some don’t. One method that seems to be the most effective is the debt snowball payment method (we covered this in a previous blog post here, and in a recent YouTube video if you’d like to catch up).
If you start at the budget calculator link above, you will have a target number to fire at for your debt, and the budget calculator will lead you into our debt snowball payment calculator, where you can begin to plan your debt attack.
The snowball method works by lining up all debt obligations from smallest balance to largest. Beginning each month, make the most aggressive payments on your lowest debt obligation while making the minimum payments on the others, carefully avoiding impulsive spending using the lowest debt amount source, like a credit card. As the minimum debt reduces, this will free up more cash flow for you by requiring a lower monthly payment. This will help you begin to create an emergency fund as detailed above. Don’t stop! Once the first lowest balance is paid off, begin attacking the second lowest, and so on.
Have Monthly Goals
Lastly, this is the step most often forgotten. It can be a true grind to pay off all debt, and if you continuously focus on the finish line instead of the gains you are making in the race, you will tire quickly. Small victorious pile-up, and make it worth it in the end!