10 Steps Out of Debt
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10 Steps Out of Debt:
Yes, you can get out of debt! Follow this step-by-step plan and work your way to debt-free living. By taking control of your finances, you're taking control of your life -- and making it better than ever. There’s no easy solution, but here are a few simple tips to help you get started:
10 steps to debt freedom
STOP spending and Figure out how much you owe. Gather all your credit card statements and make a list that includes the interest rates, total amounts you owe and minimum monthly payments. List the cards by the interest rates they charge with the highest rate first and so on. "A lot of people have lost track of what they owe," says Gerri Detweiler, author of "The Ultimate Credit Handbook." The bottom line is you need to make more than you spend.
If you don't have a card with an interest rate of less than 14%, get one.
Resolve that you will use your cards only for essentials over the next six months. For other purchases, use cash or a debit card.
Add up your minimum monthly payments. Credit cards often require very low minimums. Follow them and you will be paying forever. For instance, if you owe $1,000 on a card with a 17% interest rate, experts say it might take you 12 years and cost you $979 (in addition to the principal) to pay it off if you make only the minimum payments.
Calculate how much you can pay over the minimum. Really stretch your budget. For instance, let's suppose the minimum payments on your credit cards total $350 a month. What could you pay if you really stretched? How about $750? No pain, no gain.
Apply all of your additional repayments to the card with the highest rate. If two cards have the same rate, put the additional money on the card with the largest balance.
Consolidate your debt. Many credit card issuers offer introductory rates as low as 3.9% for six months. If you're really serious about getting out of debt in a hurry, transfer your largest, high-rate balances to a card with an extremely low rate and pay them down aggressively.
Pay the minimum on your lowest rate cards until you've paid off the balance on the more expensive cards.
Consider using your savings to get out of debt. Sure it sounds harsh. But if you put together a balance sheet, your debt would cancel out your savings anyway. If they're in the bank, you're probably earning just over 3.2% to carry debt at 18% or more.