The recession is over and spending is going up. Interest rates may even begin to rise soon. According to a recent study Americans are carrying $683 billion in revolving credit card debt. That is not how much we charge but the outstanding balance that we pay interest on each month. WOW! Cambridge Consumer Credit Index stated recently that of all those people who paid less than the entire balance all but 13% made the minimum payment. Using a credit card on a regular basis is nothing more than habit. If you want to change your results just change your habit. You can even go so far as to leave your credit cards at home. Yes, I know it’s tough but if you don’t have them with you, you can’t use them can you? Here are 8 steps that will help you get out from under the burdens of debt. If you have young adult or teenage children I would suggest that you pass this along to them also:
1: Make a list of what you owe. This is the hardest part of dealing with the fact that you may owe more than you think. Get out all of your statements and list them on a legal pad. List the ones with the highest balances first. Beside the balance list the minimum payment and the interest rate you are paying.
2: Prioritize your debts. Pay off the smallest ones with the highest rates first. This is a no brainer right? You may even to pay off entire balances this month and then you have just eliminated one of your monthly bills. This means more to go to the next bill.
3: Don’t roll your balances from card to card. This may sound like an easy way to lower your interest rate but don’t be fooled into thinking that you are making progress when you may not. Every time you apply for another (lower) interest rate card your credit is pulled. This could lower your score not to mention if you are applying for a loan on an investment property the lender may think that you are just rolling the balances from card to card.
4: Close any accounts once paid off. Once you pay off a credit card don’t just leave it open. You should contact the issuer of the card and request that it be cancelled. You should only need to keep one card once all of them are paid off. If you leave them open they will still show up on your credit report and any lender will know that you could access that money at any time which they may not be comfortable with.
5: Get a copy of your credit report. You would be surprised at the mistakes that are on credit reports. You should look at a copy at least once a year. If you are buying houses and getting loans then you would probably know if something is on there that is not yours anyway.
6: Set a budget. Ouch! I know it hurts but if you set a simple budget and stick to it you will see your liabilities decrease and your equities increase.
7: Be careful of the equity in your home. Many people think that using your home equity is a wise thing to do and it can be however you need to make sure that if you tap into the equity in your home you need to use the money for wise investments instead of buying something that will go down in value or worse yet something like a vacation.
8: Study success. Read everything you can on finance and credit that you can. The more you learn the more you can earn. Don’t forget to also use real estate to help get you out of debt. If you wholesale a house or buy a property and rehab it you can then refinance it and pull out some cash and use that to pay off a bill.