Theme in Review: Getting Out of Debt
August 17, 2012
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
Over the past six weeks, the America Saves blog has featured a number of debt related articles. Given that getting out of debt is one of the most cited savings goals by American Savers, we sincerely hope that these many articles have been informative and helpful. We would like to thank our guest bloggers who have contributed some fantastic articles, as well as feature them once again before beginning our next theme for Young Savers and their parents.
Painless Ways to Pay off High Interest Debt
By Erik Carter, JD, CFP® is a resident financial planner at Financial Finesse, the leading provider of unbiased financial education for employers nationwide, delivered by on-staff CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. For additional financial tips and insights, follow Financial Finesse on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
Are you struggling with credit card debt? If so, you’re not alone. Paying off credit cards and other higher interest debt is one of the most common goals that people try to save for. Unfortunately, having to pay off a large amount of debt with ridiculously high interest rates can make you feel hopeless, especially if your budget is already stretched. But it turns out that you don’t necessarily need to make huge sacrifices to become debt free much sooner than you may have thought was possible.
Let’s take a look at an example. Suppose you have 4 credit cards. One has a balance of $1,800 at 19.8%. The second has a balance of 1,500 at 16.99%. The third has a $1,100 balance at 16.7%. The last has a balance of $1,000 at 5.9%. If you just make the minimum payments, it would take over 30 years to pay all that off! Sounds pretty discouraging for someone on a tight budget, huh?
Recovering from Overwhelming Debt
July 17, 2012
By Gale Cunningham, National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), Inc., Vice President of Membership and Public Relations
Debt is definitely a four-letter word. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate credit, but when the misuse of credit, or life for that matter, leads to overwhelming debt, it can consume you. Debt concerns are with you 24/7. You don’t sleep well. You’re not a good employee. And you’re not as good a parent or spouse as you’d like to be.
If overwhelming debt is ruining your life, do something about it. That sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but in today’s economic environment, many people are financially frozen. They don’t reach out for help because they’re convinced their situation is beyond help, they’re afraid that they might hook up with an unscrupulous company and end up worse off than when they began, or they’re simply tired of trying. Don’t let this be you. You owe it to yourself and your family to spend an hour with a trained and certified credit counselor, someone who sees people like you every day. If there’s a way to dig out, they’ll find it. And if not, they’ll provide you with the best resolution options available for your situation.
Paying Down Debt
July 16, 2012
Tiffany Ching, Union Bank, N.A., Senior Vice President and Regional Manager
Eliminating debt is one of the fastest ways to free up money for savings, investments and other long-term financial goals. Credit card bills, student loans and other debt are not only a burden on a budget, but the balances almost always accumulate interest, adding to your debt.
For some, paying down debt may seem overwhelming, but by putting a plan in place, you may be able to pay off your debt sooner, with less interest, while possibly improving your credit score.
Following are some tips to help you pay down debt with the goal of saving more for the future:
Get a Handle on How Much You Owe
Start by listing the outstanding balance, interest rate, minimum payment and due date for each of your debt accounts. This information can easily be found on your most recent monthly statement. Keep a calendar to remind you of due dates, set up automatic payments where you have that option, and continue to make timely monthly payments on each account.
Dig Yourself Out of Debt Action Plan
July 10, 2012
By Michelle Volpe-Kohler, Associate Director, FINRA Corporate Communications.
It’s easy to fall into debt—especially if you are supporting a growing family. But just because you’re in debt now doesn’t mean you have to stay in debt. You are taking the first step to dig yourself out of debt by reading this Action Plan. Whether you’re in serious trouble or just want to pay down some bills, take the steps in this Action Plan to get going.
- Complete a personal financial inventory.Knowing how you got into debt will help you find the right solutions to get out. Find out what you own, what you owe and how much you’re spending. This will help you figure out how you can trim your spending in some areas to find the money you need to repay your debts. Review the action plans on calculating your net worth, tracking your spending and building a spending plan to get your financial inventory started.
- Put away the plastic. If you find yourself over your head in debt, stop using your credit cards immediately. See the Control Your Credit Action Plan for tips that can help you live without using credit cards all the time.
- Call your creditors before skipping payments. If you think you can’t make a payment, call the business you owe money to and ask for more time. If you make the call before you miss a payment, the business often will be more willing to work with you.
- Written by Katie Bryan
- Category: Blog
- Published: 17 August 2012