Whatever your source of debt (credit cards, student loans, etc.), it can feel crippling. Getting out of debt can seem difficult or impossible. While your reason for being in debt may be unique to you, there are likely some common reasons you’re staying in debt. Here are three big reasons you may feel stuck, along with some tips to help you become debt-free.
1. You're Ignoring It
This is often tempting. Instead of facing that (often large) number, it is easier to ignore it. But it won’t go away magically. You can take control of your debt by taking a true assessment (here's how to figure out if you have too much debt). Figure out how much you owe. Make a list of all outstanding debt. Include the interest rates. This can be the beginninings of a plan to dig out from under the debt once and for all. Taking control of your debt is also taking control of your credit. If you want to track your credit score as you pay off debt and monitor your progress, you can see two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com, plus get a personalized action plan for building your credit.
From here you can determine which debt to pay first. By paying off the debt with the highest interest first, you can save yourself money in the long run. But by paying off the smallest balance first, you may have something to celebrate sooner and can gain momentum. Your personality and financial style can help determine which option is best for you.
2. You Don't Have a Budget
Once you have a plan to pay down your debt, it’s hard to put it into place if your other finances are not organized. If you don’t already have one, it’s a good idea to create a budget. This will help you see where your money is going currently and figure out better ways to direct it. Add up all the money you have coming in and track your spending to see what is going out. Then you can see where there are places you can cut back. Use the saved money to put toward your debt payments.
3. You're Only Making Minimum Payments
You may feel like you are making headway because you are keeping up with the minimum payments. But paying only the minimum each month will cost you big in the long run. Now that you are looking more closely at your money, you may have noticed that even though you diligently pay the minimum each month toward your credit card debt, the balance doesn’t seem to be going down. This is because the minimum payment is going primarily toward the interest and not actually lowering the amount of money you owe. You are paddling to stay in place. Try to pay more than the minimum on your accounts. Even if it’s only a little bit, you will likely start to see the balance inching down.
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