There’s a difference between carrying a normal amount of debt and becoming
overloaded. If you think your debt is out of control, don’t panic. With
smart financial planning and a little bit of self-discipline, you can quickly
get on the right path to reducing your debt.
Our “10 debt danger signals” will help you to be an alert money
manager and control debt, rather than have it control you.
Here's a list of debt danger signs:
- You don't know how much you owe on your bills
- You live paycheck to paycheck
- You occasionally make late payments
- You've paid late fees more than twice in the last year
- You spend more than you earn
- Creditors call you
- You put off paying one bill so you can pay another
- You make purchases impulsively
- You pay only the minimum on your credit cards
- You take cash advances from credit cards to pay bills
You can take immediate steps to reduce your spending and manage your debt.
The first step is to carefully examine your monthly budget. Look for ways to
reduce your spending each month to give you more available money to pay down
Understand what you spend, then evaluate your spending to see where you can
- Track your daily spending. You can make a simple list
or track where your money goes by using personal financial software.
- Pay off those credit card bills. High credit card balances
drag on your financial resources – the sooner you pay them down, the
sooner you will free up additional money.
- Use credit cards only in emergency—and be sure
to pay the balance off at the end of the month.
- Pay cash or don’t buy it at all.
- Move your debt to a lower interest credit card. If you
must carry debt for awhile, take advantage of those short-term zero-interest
offers and use the savings to pay down credit debt.
- Buy a used car instead of a new one.
- Take public transportation. The savings in gas alone
could be enough to make an additional credit card payment every month.
- Raise the deductible on your home and car insurance – you
could save up to 20%. Also, many insurance companies offer discounts if you
buy multiple policies from them.
- Save by eating out less. Bringing your lunch to work saves
$7 per day, which can add up to $1,750 per year. By dining out one less night
each week you could save $30 per week., which is $1,560 per year.
- Carefully budget your holiday and other gift giving. Refrain
from last-minute purchases – stick to your plan.
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