Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

Debt Danger & Budget Management

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:

  1. You don't know how much you owe on your bills
  2. You live paycheck to paycheck
  3. You occasionally make late payments
  4. You've paid late fees more than twice in the last year
  5. You spend more than you earn
  6. Creditors call you
  7. You put off paying one bill so you can pay another
  8. You make purchases impulsively
  9. You pay only the minimum on your credit cards
  10. You take cash advances from credit cards to pay bills

Budget Trimming

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 high-interest debt.

Understand what you spend, then evaluate your spending to see where you can make cuts.

  1. Track your daily spending. You can make a simple list or track where your money goes by using personal financial software.
  2. 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.
  3. Use credit cards only in emergency—and be sure to pay the balance off at the end of the month.
  4. Pay cash or don’t buy it at all.
  5. 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.
  6. Buy a used car instead of a new one.
  7. Take public transportation. The savings in gas alone could be enough to make an additional credit card payment every month.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Carefully budget your holiday and other gift giving. Refrain from last-minute purchases – stick to your plan.

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