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20 Way’s to Decrease Your Debt

1. Pay your bills first: It’s important to put the money aside to pay your bills as soon as you get paid. That way you will be sure to have enough money to pay them. Don’t go out and buy things, not even groceries until you’ve put the money aside for your bills. Most of your day to day expenses are likely to have some flexibility in them, you can limit how much you spend on coffee a day or buy a less expensive cut of meat, but the power company wants all their money.

2. Make your payments on time: Every late payment can hurt you, and in more than one way. Many utility companies report your payments to the credit reporting agencies, so ahistory of late payments can hurt your credit score. It also costs you more if you pay late. Late fees may be small but when you’re working on reducing debt, every dollar counts. Three dollars a month in late payment charges on three bills works out to over a hundred dollars a year.

3. Write down what you spend: Managing and paying down debt is all about taking control of your money. You can’t control what you don’t know, so it’s important to keep a journal of how much you are spending and what you’re spending it on. Do it before you make your budget and you’ll be able to see what you really do spend money on, rather than guessing and coming up short because you forgot to account for something when you wrote up the budget.

4. Know your credit report: Your credit report is your scorecard in the fight against bad credit. If you don’t know where you stand it’s hard to move forward. Most countries let consumers see their reports for free at least once a year. Take advantage of this, you might find a debt on there that you already paid which wasn’t reported to the agency. Reports of unpaid debts can really hurt your credit, so it’s important to make sure those are accurate.

5. Pay creditors who report to agencies first: Some creditors report each payment you make to credit reporting agencies, while others only report information if they send your debt to an outside collection agency. If you have to postpone one of your bills past the due date, it’s always better for your credit score (all else being equal) if you pay the one that reports regularly as it will have the biggest impact on your credit score.

6. Pay your bills when you have the money: don’t wait until the due dates: A lot ofpeople think the due date on a bill is the day you are supposed to pay it, not the day by which the creditor wants to have received the money. Paying bills as soon as you get paid removes the temptation to take some of the money back to spend on something else. Once it’s gone, so is the temptation to take the money and spend it elsewhere.

7. Ensure your creditors notify credit agencies when bills are paid: If you do have unpaid bills, it’s important not only to pay them but also to make sure those payments are reported to the credit agencies, otherwise those payments won’t help repair your credit. Talk to the creditor about this, and if necessary don’t hesitate to follow up with the credit reporting agency yourself.

8. Always pay something: Even if you can’t pay all of your bills at one time, always make a payment of some kind on each bill. This not only shows your good faith to the creditor by proving that you are not ignoring the debt, but it also reduces the amount you’ll have to pay when the next bill comes due. If one month is hard to pay now, two months will be harder to pay in future. Making partial payments helps reduce the effect of late payments piling up on each other.

9. Make a budget: Budgeting is an important part of controlling your money. It helps you see the big picture and gives you a plan with defined steps to focus on. It moves the what of reducing your debt and improving your credit into a plan of attack. Budgeting is the how of debt reduction, it’s where you write down the plan you’re going to follow to get your finances under control. You have to start somewhere, and budgeting is a good place to start.

10. Save your pennies and other coins: It’s amazing how much money we carry around as loose change in our pockets, and it’s money we often don’t think of as money. Half the time it gets spent on a candy bar because we’re bored rather than anything one needs. Turn it into an asset by dumping your change into a jar every night once you get home. It’s amazing how fast it will add up, and that’s money that can be used for emergencies, or to pay down a debt that suddenly jumped to the top of the pile.

11. Communicate with lenders: This is one many debtors ignore. Your creditors only want your money, and most of them are more than happy to work with you so long as they get their money in the end. The catch is that you have to keep them in the loop. Telling them what’s going on and offering payment plans helps convince them that you’re not planning to default on the debt. Yes they want their money, but that doesn’t mean you have to put them in an adversarial role.

12. Know your rights: Both debtors and creditors have rights, but creditors are usually much more aware of their rights than debtors are. Knowing your rights gives you as a debtor a way to deflect harassing collection calls and a measure of control in the situation. It also lets you tell when an overzealous collection agent is making threats they can’t back up.

13. Set goals: Every task needs milestones, something to let you feel you’re progressing and prevent the enormity of the situation from becoming overwhelming. Repairing yourcredit and reducing debt is no different. Setting manageable goals like paying off one credit card within a year will help keep you focused and moving forward on debt reduction. If you’re looking to build credit, getting a credit card within a year is a good goal. It doesn’t matter what the goal is so much as making sure it’s attainable and working towards it.

14. Leave some money for extras: No matter how much debt you’re carrying, always make sure to put some money in the budget for extras and entertainment. Yes there are free alternatives to entertainment, but never having money for treats such as a five-shot Mocha, a night at the movies or a new book or CD is sure to frustrate you and get you off your budget. Put in some money, not a lot, but enough so that you can treat yourself on occasion and it will be a lot easier to stay on your budget.

15. Pay cash: Don’t buy things with the swipe of a card if you can avoid it. Pay cash before using debit or credit. The thing about debit and credit payments is that the expenditure is invisible so you don’t really notice how much you’re spending. If you pay cash you have a much better feel for how much money you are spending which lets you keep more control of your money.

16. It’s not a good deal if it’s more than you can afford: How many times have you gone into a store and seen a ten-pound bag of something at only twice the price of the two poundbag? It may be a great deal, but it’s not always a good buy. Remember, you’re still spending more money, and that has to come from somewhere. Also, if you’re not going to use it all before it goes bad you might find you’ve bought ten pounds and thrown away eight- and then you’re wasting money. Buy based on your needs, not just how good the deal looks.

17. Pay off high rate cards first: If you’ve got two credit cards that you need to pay off, take the one with the higher interest rate and pay it off first while making the minimum payment on the other card. Interest is lost money, so the faster you pay off the card with the higher interest the more debt you’re losing for the same amount of money spent. Even a 2% difference in credit card interest rates can make a huge difference.

18. Consolidate your loans: Loan consolidation is a great tool if you have access to it. If you can get all your debts combined into one monthly payment you’ll often find you’re paying everything off much sooner. Not only will a bank often give you a lower interest rate than credit cards, which means more of your money is going to reduce the debt rather than just service it, but making a single payment is usually cheaper than writing out half a dozen checks every month.

19. Cut up your credit cards: An important part of getting out of debt is making sure you don’t incur more debt, and this is where cutting up your credit cards comes in. You can’t cancel the account before you pay it off, but cutting up the card makes you that much lessable to use it, especially if the CVN on the back isn’t on your statement. Then you won’t even be able to use it online. Part of taking control is reducing temptation.

20. Ask to have your credit limit lowered: Credit cards are useful to have, but it’s important to stay out of trouble when using them. One way to keep control of your credit card spending is to keep a low limit like $500 on the card to make it that much harder to get into trouble. If you get a card with a high limit and are concerned you’ll run it up and not be able to pay, call the company and see if you can get the limit lowered to something you can keep ahead of.

Stephan Clingman: writer, webmaster, knowledge seeker. I’ve been on the web for a number of year’s and have learned valuable SEO lesson’s thru trial and error. The web is an ever evolving entity that you must keep up with if you are going to survive.Pay Off My Debt
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