With the added expense of the Holidays upon us we have a few ideas on how you can make any debt you currently have or may incur less stressful.
Managing debt might be one of the trickier aspects of “being an adult”. When done right, debt is actually a very good thing to have because it builds your credit, but any mismanagement of it can turn your world upside down quickly. As you start venturing into the world of debt, or if you are already there and want to get a better handle of it there are some things to keep in mind so things easier.
1. Make sure you always know who you owe and how much you owe. One of the most disastrous things you could have happen while managing debt is forgetting a credit card or loan you have out. Missing payments is the one thing you want to try and avoid at all costs because collecting too many late fees will derail your efforts to keep on top of your debt. Additionally, it is helpful if you make a list of all your debt that includes your monthly payment amount, the interest and due date as well as ranking them from top priority to pay off (credit cards) to low priority (mortgages).
2. Always make sure you pay the minimum amount every month. This will help keep you from getting dinged by late fees that can add up and make it harder to eventually pay your debt off. While not really very useful as far as putting a dent in your debt, making sure you pay the minimum will keep you in good standing with your credit.
3. Create an emergency fund to try and avoid going into debt when little speed bumps arise. It is ok to start small and work your way up having three to six months of living expenses stashed away. This helps you avoid dipping into your savings and maxing out credit cards that have high interest rates.
4. Not only should you have a list of all your debt information readily available for your review, but you should also have a budget that goes along with it to plan how you will go about paying for everything month to month. One big key here is to plan far enough in advance to cover any shortages that may arise paycheck to paycheck. Having a budget ultimately helps you to attain left-over money that can be used for other expenses, savings, or paying off debt faster.
5. There is no shame if after trying to manage your debt yourself you realize you need professional help. A credit counseling agency, debt consolidation company, debt settlement or filing bankruptcy are all valid options to manage your debt if all other options have failed. Just make sure you do your homework on each because they do come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages that you need to be aware of before taking the plunge.