Check out Elite Cash Wire’s video here on how to simplify your finances today!
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Whether you’re in major credit card debt, seeking debt reduction or just need credit debt help, we’ll see what it takes to get debt free. Debt consolidation loans, debt negotiation services, and debt relief have all become popular, but are they right for you? We take a look at the keys to getting out of debt.
The number of Americans that are in debt continues to grow at a rapid pace. Using credit cards to finance flat panel TVs and $6 caffe lattes has become the norm. According to recent statistics, some 43% of all American families spend more than they make each year. This “spend first and save later” mentality can be equated to some of the worst of addictions, with similar consequences. Much like curing a dependency, the first step to eliminating credit card debt is admitting that you have a problem. It may sound like a typical cliché, but if you can do that, you can take the most important step of all—action.
Once you decide to take action to eliminate your credit card debt, you can start planning for a debt free future. Doing so will require much more discipline than what got you in debt in the first place. There is no magic or easy solution to credit card debt elimination; it takes sacrifice. A steady plan with some determination can get you there, but you have to want it. Are you tired of being a slave to debt? Are you truly ready to do what it takes to eliminate debt? Are you ready to make it happen? If so, read on.
Stop using your credit cards
The first step you should take is to stop using your credit cards. This should be done at just about all costs, effective immediately. Purchasing things like gas and food with your credit card sure is convenient, but debt reduction is about sacrifice. Your credit card isn’t a free gift card, so don’t treat it that way. Start using your debit card or cash for these purchases. Individuals tend to be much more frugal when they see it as their money that’s being spent. You’ll find that you spend much less with this method. And if you can’t afford to put it on your debit card, you probably shouldn’t buy it.
It’s convenient to have a credit card set aside for emergencies, but an emergency fund can be
accomplished by putting a small amount of savings away. So, when your car breaks down or that inevitable emergency strikes, you’re not tapping your cards. Adding to your debt is the last thing you want to do when fighting the credit card battle. If you have to cut up your credit cards to stop spending, then do so. This is a fight.
Reduce your interest rates
Many credit card companies charge in excess of 20% interest rates. These excessive rates can often be negotiated down to lower rates. Call your credit card company and ask for lower rates. They’ll often work with you to lower these rates. Getting rates down to 10% to 12% is not unusual when seeking debt help. If they give you trouble tell them you’ll have to transfer to a credit card company with more attractive rates. There are plenty of decent credit card offers online that would love to have your business.
Don’t just pay the minimum balance
When you just make minimum balance payments you’re barely keeping your head above water, if at all. This is what gets most people into trouble and where the credit card companies get rich. Most of your minimum balance payment goes to interest and not principal. Making just the minimum balance payments (calculator) is a losing battle. If you have more than one credit card, focusing your efforts on paying off one card at a time while making minimum balance payments on the others is fine.
Should you pay off your highest interest rate debts first?
Many financial planners will advise a steady payoff method, which recommends that you pay off your highest interest rate credit card debts first. While it’s the most logical approach, resulting in the lowest interest paid when followed strictly, it’s not always the best solution for all. Psychologically, some individuals are more productive when utilizing the “bottom up” approach. By paying off the lower
owed amounts first, regardless of the interest rate, these individuals get the gratification that comes with progress. Also, it’s not at all uncommon for your largest debts to have the highest interest rates. Paying off these amounts first can be particularly discouraging for some, since progress is often slow. Choose the method that best suits your personality and will help you reach your goals, as
the critical thing is paying off the credit card debt.
Consolidate your debts?
If you have some high rate credit card companies that won’t budge and don’t seem to have your best interest in mind, it often makes sense to transfer to one of your existing low interest rate credit cards. This assumes that you haven’t maxed them out and you have the room to do so. Debt credit card consolidation can be helpful, allowing you to consolidate debt at long-term low interest rates.
When it comes to debt consolidation loans that involve lines of credit or home equity loans, you should tread with caution. Many families who took home equity loans to pay off credit cards over the last few years ended up with even more debt. To make matters even worse, some of these families are doing all they can to stop foreclosure. By taking on a home equity debt consolidation loan, you’re just adding another creditor and spreading out payments. Adding creditors and paying minimums over time is what got you in this mess to begin with.
Spend less or make more
Spending less takes discipline, but it puts you at a big advantage when it comes to paying off credit cards. Chances are you’re like many of us you spend money on frivolous items you really don’t need. A bit of frugality won’t make a drastic change in your lifestyle, but it will help you reach your debt relief goals.
Obviously, making more money will allow you to speed up the credit card debt reduction process. This may sound a lot easier said than done, but you don’t need a huge raise or a winning lottery ticket to do so. Whether you get a second job in a vocation you enjoy or you sell your old baseball cards on Ebay, every bit helps. Just do something to increase your income. Any surplus of income or lower spending can be applied to a rigorous debt elimination plan.
You’ve probably seen the commercials: Debt negotiation claims of debt elimination for just pennies on the dollar. The age-old law applies here, if it’s too good to be true, it often is. Many debt negotiation or debt settlement companies will cost you much more than just pennies. These debt services charge rather large fees with the real cost being the destruction of your credit. Debt negotiation or debt settlement is often pitched as an alternative to filing and avoiding bankruptcy. But, you’re often better off claiming bankruptcy, as debt negotiation services can result in lawsuits from your creditors, a ruined credit score and fraud from the debt settlement company. Fortunately, the FTC has put a stop to many of these unscrupulous debt negotiation schemes.
Don’t be tempted by quick or easy solutions in paying off debt. Getting out of debt takes hard work,
planning, and sacrifice. If you’re truly willing to give it your all, you’ll not only better yourself, but you’ll achieve your debt free dreams. Few thing in life are as liberating.
If you have decided that debt settlement is the best option for you but you don’t want to pay a debt settlement agency to negotiate on your behalf, you can attempt do it yourself debt settlement. Do it yourself debt settlement works for many people, and even if it does not work, it may be worth your time and energy to attempt it on your own since there are fees associated with working with a debt settlement agency. How successful you are in negotiating a settlement on your own is directly related to how prepared you are.
When you want to settle with your creditors you need to have all of your ducks in a row, so to speak. You should have a copy of your current bill, written letters from the creditor offering a settlement, as well as the specific amount that you are able to pay upon settlement. This amount can be a lump sum or a monthly payment. Once you have all of this information prepared you are ready to make a call to the creditor.
When you make a call you should immediately ask for someone who is in charge. Many times the operators who pick up the phone don’t know about or are not authorized to make debt settlement offers. Asking to talk to someone in charge will usually yield you much better results. Be clear and concise about what you are willing to do. If the call gets tense, thank the individual for their time and hang up. If calling is not successful, write a letter to the department manager or president of the company providing your offer for debt settlement and outline the dates that you will be making payments.
Many times if you go about debt settlement in a clear and concise manner you will be successful in doing it yourself. Most people who are successful will be able to settle for 30 to 40 percent of their original balance, which will make paying off the debt so much easier. If you are not successful, it may be time to get a debt settlement agency involved on your behalf.
Imagine being free of debt — no more sleepless nights over mounting credit card balances, no more ball-and-chain of debt feeding your anxieties, and no chance of threats from dreaded collection agencies. You can do it! Here’s the scoop — in one minute flat.
0:60 Resolve to spend less than you make
Make it a habit as fundamental as stopping for red lights. Realize once and for all that if you can’t pay for it today — you can’t afford it.
0:55 Distinguish between Bad Debt and OK Debt
OK Debt has an interest rate well under 10% — preferably with some tax advantages to boot. In the best case, what you bought with borrowed funds will appreciate in value. Home mortgages and student loans are examples of OK Debt. Automobile loans are on the border: They often satisfy the low-rate piece, but automobiles almost never appreciate in value. Bad Debt is everything else — from your titanium credit card to the 35% loan from Larry’s Kwik Kash.
0:50 Pick a winner
Out of all your cards, pick the one or two major credit cards that feature the lowest annual interest rate. Resolve to use those cards for emergencies only. As for all the other plastic pals in your wallet, remove temptation by taking them out of your wallet. Throw them behind a major appliance, freeze them in a bowl of water, or decoupage them to a shoebox. Do whatever it takes not to use them.
0:41 Gather the latest bills from all Bad Debt accounts
Line these up on the kitchen table. Find the minimum monthly payment for each account and then add these up to get an overall monthly minimum. Pledge to pay this overall minimum PLUS a hefty additional chunk every month — enough to make a solid dent in the outstanding balance of at least one account.
If you can’t pull this off, you’ll have to make a drastic move to increase your income or lower your expenses. It’s harsh, we know, but it’s also an inescapable fact.
0:34 Pick the highest interest rate account and: Attack!
Next, order the latest bills according to annual interest rate charged. Apply the “hefty additional chunk” (beyond the minimum) to the highest rate account(s). Repeat this process monthly until the last Bad Debt account is paid in full.
0:26 Ask for a lower interest rate
Grab a bill from any account charging you more than 14% interest. Dial the toll-free number on the bill and ask to have your rate reduced — say, to 11%. Tell them that you’d really like to stay with them out of customer loyalty (embellish according to your acting skills), but that you have received offers for much-lower-rate cards. Expect to be made very uncomfortable, but stand firm and remember that, to them, you are both a customer and a profit center. You also stand to save a bundle. The more calls you make, the more persuasive you’ll become.
0:18 Be prudent
Be aggressive in paying down Bad Debt, but don’t get so ambitious that you risk missing minimum payments on your mortgage, automobile, or any other secured credit account. (Secured means that if you miss enough payments, the bank can show up and take away your stuff.)
0:12 Commiserate with others
Find a discussion board, you’ll find plenty of emotional support and great ideas. Help others celebrate their debt-free “happy dance.”
0:05 Dance, Fool!
You’re done when the Bad Debt is 100% exorcised and you can make remaining OK Debt payments with ease, leaving plenty of budget room for savings.
Got another minute? Need help in simplifying your finances? Then click here.