Credit card debt for the consumer (the average person) is on the rise again. The average indebted U.S. household carries $15,762 in credit card debt*. This figure doesn’t include mortgage loans, auto loans, student loans or even personal loans. Whether you have more or less than the national average of credit card debt, any debt can become overwhelming if you don’t take care of it.
Figure Out How Much Debt You Carry
It’s time to tally up what you owe. Don’t be intimidated by this step. Whether you plan on tackling your debt on your own or decide to work with a debt counselor, you must have a complete list of what you owe. While you are making this list, it would be helpful to also find out what the interest rate is for each credit card or loan and/or if there is a minimum payment due. Without this knowledge, you won’t be able to form a concrete plan of how you are going to manage your debt. Make sure to include all debt in your list.
Examples of debt include:
- Credit Card debt
- Collections accounts
- Unpaid medical bills
- Personal loans
- Auto/boat loans
- Student loans
- Mortgage loans
- Home equity loans
Once you have your total debt figure in hand, you can begin to formulate a plan for getting rid of your debt.
Monthly Budgeting 101
Many people prefer to try and manage their debt on their own by creating and sticking to a budget. If you decide to go this route, you’ll need to calculate how much income you take in monthly and also make a list of the monthly, quarterly or yearly bills you have.
Common bills include:
- Cell phone
- Utilities (Gas/Electric/Internet/Cable)
- Child Care
- Insurance (Auto, Home, Life, Disability)
- Subscription services
Expenses are next:
- Gym membership fees
- Transportation costs (Uber, Lyft, Taxis, Subway)
Once you have your totals, you can see, in black and white, how much income you are taking in every month vs. how much you are spending. If you are spending more than you are taking in, you will not be able to get out of debt without some changes in your behavior. While creating a monthly budget may seem like a tedious task, it can be helpful while you try to curb your spending and get out of debt.
After you take your monthly bills and expenses out of your income, the remaining money should go toward:
- Building a savings account; and
- Paying down your debt.
There are several different methods to paying down your debt, but the most important thing is to be consistent with your payments. Make sure that you don’t miss any payments. Setting up a spreadsheet on your computer, phone, or even on paper can help to keep you organized and on track.
If you are overwhelmed by creating a budget, enlisting the help of a professional debt counselor will help. A person may decide to contact a debt counselor to create the budget, to ask for guidance on which debt to pay down first, or if they find that they don’t have enough monthly income to pay for bills and expenses, let alone tackle the debt.
Managing Debt – When to Call for Help…
At any point, if you feel overwhelmed or confused, call for help. Debt counselors are knowledgeable in debt management and once you speak with an expert, you may find that you have more options available to you than you realized. Many people are able to combine their debt into a lower monthly payment with a lower interest rate using debt consolidation services. Others choose debt settlement or debt relief options. Whichever route you use, contacting a professional will help you to know you have made the best decision for your financial future.
If you need assistance with managing your debt, contact Christian Debt Counselors today for a free, no obligation quote.