Waking up to debt every morning is frustrating. You know that when too much of your paycheck goes out the window to pay interest on credit cards and other loans, it compromises your financial future. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and ready to do something to stem the tide of debt, start with these three tips.
Pay Off the Smallest Debt First
Conventional advice is to pay off your high-interest debt first, but if the amount is large, it can feel like a losing battle. Too many small payments are tough to track and the next thing you know, you’ve forgotten to make one on time. Now you owe a huge late fee. Start by paying off your smallest debt first. It will feel like a victory, and you can then apply that monthly payment amount to the next lowest balance on the list. By increasing the amount, you pay above the minimum, you’ll eliminate each debt faster.
Know Your Rights
There are a lot of myths about debt collectors, but the fact is they legally can’t abuse you. Debt collectors have a right to contact you on behalf of creditors, but as a consumer, you have legal protection. By law, debt collectors can’t call you at work, and they can’t demand you pay interest or fees unless allowed by regulation in your state. Know your legal rights, know what you have to do, what signs collectors are harassing you, and what resources you have. Just because you are in debt doesn’t mean you should be abused by people or the system.
Start a Budget
Making sound spending decisions is almost impossible without knowing how much you make. How much you owe and where the money goes month after month. The best first step to getting a handle on your finances is to create a simple budget. List expenses that can’t be avoided like rent and health care, and then examine your discretionary spending. If you want to put more money into your savings account or pay off debt faster, find ways to limit what you spend on non-essential items and look for creative ways to save on things like food, entertainment, and clothing.
Debt is sometimes unavoidable, but if you hold onto it for too long, achieving your financial dreams may not be possible. Start saving a few dollars now with these three tips, and then build from there. Soon, debt will be a thing of the past.