Eliminate Credit Card Debt
It’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life for thousands of Americans: credit card debt is often the one thing that holds you back from doing the stuff that really makes you happy. It isn’t just a casual source of stress; it’s something that plagues you constantly because you know that you’ll be paying off your debts for years -- decades, even -- and that’s the best case scenario. Even the most responsible adults can find themselves buried in debt, because the nature of the credit card industry is to make it difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to work their way out of it.
First off, you shouldn’t be ashamed if you’re in a situation like this. You certainly aren’t alone, and there are plenty of resources available that can help you through it -- and by “resources,” we mean real people who empathize with you, understand your situation, and honestly want to help.
It’s important to face the situation head-on. Even though ignoring it will seem like the easiest option now, doing this will only make things worse later on. If you aren’t sure what to do after deciding that you need to do something, here are just a few suggestions to get you started:
Make an organized list or chart of your spending habits. This needs to include everything -- every grocery bill, monthly loan payment, and cup of coffee. You may not realize just how much money you’ve been spending on non-essential items; in fact, most of us don’t realize it. But it will be easier to see your expenses, listed next your current debts, listed next to the amount of income you’re bringing in. You’ll be able to evaluate your spending habits, figure out which expenses really aren’t essential, and start to decide whether you can pay off your debts on your own (with just a bit more discipline and awareness), or whether you should contact a financial adviser for help.
Organize and prioritize your debts. This is something that a financial adviser can do, but it’s deceivingly simple, and you may be able to handle it on your own. The general rule for prioritizing debts is to take care of the lowest balances first, and/or the loans that have the highest interest rates -- but this rule doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, and if you need some help determining which loans should take priority, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask.
Hire a financial adviser, or look into the services offered at a debt reduction company. Whether you’ve been able to accomplish all of the basic organization strategies, or whether you haven’t even started organizing your finances, turning to a professional adviser for help is never a bad idea. Maybe you just need someone who can help you organize, or maybe you need someone who can advocate for you and make negotiations with creditors. There are plenty of professional services out there, and it may take a bit of research, but it won’t be hard to find a service that will fit your needs.
Create a budget plan -- and stick to it. It’s important to create a plan for yourself, but if you can’t put that plan into action and stick with it, then you won’t accomplish much. This is often one of the most difficult parts of debt management, because it requires a lot of dedication and sacrifice. But think of it this way: the more self-control you exhibit now, the sooner you’ll be debt-free and be able to live your life the way you want to live it.