Now that the holidays are over, it may be time to focus on debt consolidation.
Let’s look at some strategies for the best ways to deal with and decrease your debt.
First, Assess Your Overall Financial Situation
Before you do anything else – look at your entire financial situation. Figure out exactly how much debt you currently have. Examples of debt include amounts owed on credit cards, student loans, car loans, and mortgages. Make a list of all debt, payment dates, interest rates and credit limits. Once you have the big picture in front of you and your total amount of debt, you can create a plan to tackle it and reach your goals faster.
Look at Debt Consolidation Options
One of the best ways to get rid of high interest credit card payments is with a debt consolidation loan – these loans normally offer lower interest rates compared to credit cards, and they are fairly easy to get set up. These types of loans are more successful because having a scheduled monthly payment, and a final payoff date, can really help people reach their goals.
Another option might be a balance transfer credit card – many credit cards have a low or zero percent interest rate balance transfer option – consolidate your higher interest credit card or other debt onto one card, at the lower rate, for an ‘introductory period’ (typically 12 – 18 months). This strategy can be successful if you can get the amount paid off before the time period ends – otherwise, you may end up with more interest than you started with!
A final option to consider could be a home equity loan or line of credit. A home equity loan gives you a lump sum at a fixed rate, while a home equity line of credit gives you an open line of credit with a variable interest rate – both options are considered 2nd mortgages on your home. But if you have a good credit history, and enough equity, this is a great option to consolidate your debt.
Decide on a Payment Strategy
The two most important things in reducing debt are paying more than the minimum due and making payments on time. If you have more debt than you get approved for when apply for a loan or card to consolidate, there are still other ways you can pull yourself out of debt! Ideally, you want to pay off credit cards or loans with the highest interest rates first. If you have multiple loans or cards, another strategy is to pay off the account(s) with smaller balances first. Having small victories, and seeing a $0 balance, will help you stay focused on your debt journey.
Don’t Add More Debt
While paying off debt, you still have to live and pay your bills. As much as possible, pay with cash and don’t add more to your credit card balances. This is a big change, and can be tough, but with budgeting and smart spending, paying with cash will help you get that debt paid off faster.