Debt Basics

Debt Basics
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Debt Management

There are several warning signs that can signify financial troubles. If you find yourself paying your bills late, transferring balances to obtain lower interest rates and payments, hoping (instead of knowing for sure) that your checks clear, or borrowing money from family and friends to cover living expenses, then it is time to face the fact that you may need some assistance for your debt.

Here are some tips to help you get started on overcoming your debt troubles:

Track your Spending. The first step in taking control of your finances, is understanding what changes you need to make in your spending habits. Write down everything you spend money on for a whole month. This might be a pain at first, but it will be well worth it. Compare that number to how much money you have coming in for the same month. This comparison should give you a pretty good idea of your monthly financial position.

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Know your Balances and Interest Rates. Write down how much you owe on each credit card. What is the interest rate on each of these balances and cards? If they are above 10%, transfer your balances to the lowest interest account immediately, or try to obtain a low-interest balance transfer card. Make sure that you know how long the low-interest offer is valid. Some cards offer a 0% APR balance transfer, but are good only for a year, then the APR may go much higher than you anticipate. If you cannot pay off your debt within that time frame, go for the deal that allows you to pay off your balance at an interest rate and time period you can afford.

Limit your Credit Cards.Write a letter to your credit card companies asking to close your other accounts. You might even have to take the step of cutting your cards in half and letting go until you can get a handle on your debt. Make a payment plan for paying off the balance and interest in that one account.

Pre-paid Cards. You may argue that you NEED a credit card. If this is truly the case, try using only pre-paid credit cards. These cards require you to put money in, and allow you to spend only the amount you have already deposited.

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Order a Credit Report. If you are serious about improving your credit, then you need to see how bad (or not bad!) the situation really is. Remember, you ARE able to repair any past negative marks that are sighted on your credit report, but first you need to know what they are.

Correct any Mistakes on your Credit Report. If you detect any problems on your credit report, you can call the various reporting agencies to challenge or fix problem items. If you feel you aren't up for it, you can use reputable professionals to help.

Get Professional Debt Help. Do all these options sound too overwhelming or confusing? They might be if you feel like you are all alone in this battle to beat your debt. Luckily, there are plenty of people and organizations that can give you the advice and support you need to get over your debt problem.

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* Debt Basics is not a lender or broker. We provide information and research on debt help and debt consolidation. Product and service offerings differ by state.