Four Steps to Debt Reduction
Easy access to credit can contribute to a lifestyle that starts out with debt and gets worse as spending pressures increase. If youâ€™ve accumulated debt, how can you dig yourself out?
Calculate exactly what you owe
List your debts and minimum monthly payments, due dates and interest rates. Rank debts from highest rate to lowest. Decide if any debt is worth keeping.
Consider mortgages and college loans since interest on most mortgages is tax deductible and many college loan rates are reasonable.
Set up a budget and start eliminating your debt
A budget helps you decide how much extra cash you can devote to paying debt. It also helps you identify expenses that you can cut back on, which leads to more cash to further reduce your debt.
Lower your borrowing costs
Compare what rates credit card firms are offering. Then get your current credit card company to match the attractive rate you discover.
Or, transfer your current higher interest-rate balance to a company offering a lower rate. However, make sure you find out how long this lower rate will last and what the regular ongoing rate will be.
Also, be on the lookout for balance transfer fees.
Cash is king
Try to stick to cash and/or a debit card. Unless you have developed a disciplined approach to pay off the balance, do all you can to avoid using a credit card. For situations that require a credit card, like online purchases, find one with a low rate and be sure to pay it off every month.
Source: © 2012 Morningstar. All rights reserved. Used with permission.