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As a consumer, when I go shopping, I often ask myself what did I buy? When I look at my receipts, I am always amazed at how easy it is to spend money. As consumers we don’t want to feel the stresses of debt–we want to eliminate or reduce debt. It is simple to get into debt, but often difficult to get out of debt. Debt can take only days to acquire yet debt can take years to payoff.
Here are some solutions to reduce or eliminate debt.
1. Start with a Monthly Budget
I created a simple monthly budget that you can use for your household expenses. The first step is to figure out where you are in your debt. For instance, do you need additional income every month to help pay your debts or do you have additional money every month that you can apply to a specific creditor or emergency fund? A review of how much you spend every month is the first step to reducing your debt.
2. Cut Out Spending You Don’t Need
Your monthly budget will tell you where you are spending the most money. The bulk of your income may go to loans, credit cards, student loans, etc. Therefore, determine if you can cut back on groceries, gas, or other household expenses. Other expenses you should review are memberships or subscriptions. Ways to cut back on spending are as easy as packing a lunch, buying coffee to make at home, or carpooling to work.
3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
After assessing your monthly budget determine if you need all of your credit cards. If you have trouble paying multiple credit cards, then consider closing one or more accounts and/or cutting up the cards. Temptation sneaks up on all of us. Get rid of your cards or don’t carry any cards with you. This way you won’t be tempted to spend more.
4. Do Not Add More Debt
If you want to reduce your debt, then don’t add additional debt to the debt you already have. When you add more debt, your financial situations remain the same or possibly worse. By not adding more debt you can pay off the debt you have sooner. It is normal for situations to occur while paying off other debts that’s why I talk next about starting an emergency fund.
5. Start an Emergency Fund
If you can start an emergency fund you should. You might think to yourself, how am I going to save money while paying off other debts. Saving funds for an emergency gives you the ability to use cash instead of a credit card in the time of need. A normal emergency fund is six to twelve months of expenses. I recommend focusing on a minimum amount of $1,000 for a hot water heater, a leak in the roof, repairs on appliances, etc.
6. Increase Your Monthly Income
One of the easiest ways to reduce or eliminate debt is to increase your monthly income. There are various ways you can increase your monthly income. Start a blog, begin a side business, or pickup an additional part-time job to increase monthly income. Increasing income allows you to reduce debt faster.
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7. Eliminate One Debt at a Time
When attempting to reduce debt you have choices. Pay a little extra money to multiple creditors or choose one account and pay a larger payment to see a difference sooner. However, make sure to always pay your minimum monthly payments due. Consider paying off a debt to a smaller loan or credit card so you can see a significant change faster or pay extra towards a creditor that is charging you a higher interest rate. Either way paying down one creditor at a time gives you added monthly income to tackle other creditors at a faster rate.
8. Contact Your Creditors
If you have been in good standings with your creditors, you might ask for a lower interest rate. If you were given a promotional rate, pay your debt before the promotional rate expires. Creditors sometimes have deals that only last the first few months to a year after that the rates increase. Understand the promotions and rates each creditor gives you.