Self-Help: Get Out of Debt

By: Peter Kenny

In this day and age, it only takes a few financial missteps and many consumers can find themselves in trouble. The one factor that exacerbates this is debt, or, to be more precise, overwhelming debt.

For some consumers, getting out of debt simply means tightening the household budget and being more stringent on new purchases. For others, the challenge of getting out of debt can be more daunting. In either case, the best self-help plan for relieving debt is planning and discipline.

The first step to relieving debt is to find out where you are. Make an income list and an expense list. On the income statement, list all of your income. On the expense statement, list all of your current bills. Once this is complete, subtract the expenses from the income and you will have your disposable income. For some consumers, this may be a negative number, which means you are paying out more than you are bringing in.

In order to maintain a clean credit report and keep a high credit score it is imperative that you pay all of your bills on time. This is simple common sense, but what if you do not have enough money to pay all of your bills on time? What can you do?

When expenses outrun income you have two viable options. One is to increase your income; the other is to decrease the amount of cash needed to pay those bills.

There are many ways an individual or family can find fast cash by simply cutting back on what is spent per week on household items and living expenses. For example, rather than buying lunch during the work week, pack a lunch. Rather than going to the theater, rent a movie and watch it at home. You may find that getting a part time job for a while is a good way to increase your income. The key is to monitor your savings and protect those savings so that you have this cash available at the end of the month.

In order to decrease the amount of cash needed to pay your bills you may want to consider a consolidation loan on your credit cards. A consolidation loan allows you to bundle up several outstanding loans (all of which require an individual payment) and make one single payment, usually at a slightly lower interest rate. The total of the one payment under a consolidation loan is often substantially lower than the total of the multiple payments you were making before.

If you have any disposable income available for use after paying your bills, you may want to find the loan that has the lowest outstanding balance and begin making double payments on that one particular account. Once this account is paid, you can use the money that you would have been using to pay this account to help make additional payments on the next lowest balance account.

With some planning and discipline, you can begin to pay down your debt obligations and begin to see some real progress in your financial status. The important issues during your self-help in debt reduction are patience and diligence.

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