Help, I’m in Debt!

Debt is a difficult burden to carry on one’s shoulders. It often seems easier to just ignore it than to try to sort through massive amounts of bills, but this is the worst thing to do. So what can be done to help you regain control of your financial situation?

Six Steps to Get Out of Debt

  1. Stop using credit cards! This is especially important if you are repeatedly unable to pay the entire balance of your bill at the end of each month, because this will only increase your amount of debt. If you find that you are using credit cards to make necessary purchases for items such as food and transportation, consider asking a friend or family member for a temporary loan. The repayment plan and interest rate you negotiate with a friend or family member will be better than that of any other credit option.
  2. Develop a budget and cut out extraneous spending to help curb your dependency upon credit cards. As you create your budget, remember to designate portions of your income for debt payment as well as for bills.
  3. After you have created a budget you should have an idea of the amount of money you can afford to designate towards debt repayment each month. Your next step is to select which debts to pay off first with priority going to the debts that carry the most consequences if left unpaid. This being said, debts in categories such as rent/mortgage, utilities, court fines, child support payments, and taxes should be at the top of the list.
  4. Next contact your creditors to let them know that you are in a tough financial situation but still intend to pay your debts. During your conversation you may be able to reach a settlement to reduce your debt amount or negotiate a temporary repayment plan that accommodates your financial hardship.
  5. After you have attempted to reduce your debt amount, it would also be beneficial to attempt to consolidate your debts to reduce the number of monthly payments you will be required to make and possibly negotiate lower interest rates.
  6. Once you have contacted your creditor and established a monthly repayment plan that fits within your budget, try to set aside a small portion of money each month so you can pay more than the minimum payment. This will decrease the amount of interest you pay in the long run as well as the amount of time you will spend getting out of debt.

Eliminating personal debt can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are many agencies that specialize in debt counseling, and in some places community organizations offer classes on credit counseling. Seek out help if you need it and don’t give up hope.


Sources:

Arkins, Audrey Personal Finance-12 Ways to Get Out of Credit Card Debt. Salary.com, 1 Dec. 2004. Web. 5 Oct. 2011 <http://www.salary.com/Articles/ArticleDetail.asp?part=par245>.

Debt Questions and Answers. 2011. 5 Oct. 2011 <http://www.uswitch.com/debt-help/debt-questions-and-answers/#step4>.

The First 5 Actions to Take to Deal with Debt. 2011. 5 Oct. 2011 <http://www.myfreedebtevaluation.com/articles-first-five-actions-to-deal-with-debt.html>.

Wendy Clay

Wendy Clay

Wendy Clay is a Virginia Community College System graduate and a current undergraduate at the University of North Carolina. She is pursuing a degree in public health with a minor in exercise and sports science and plans to attend medical school upon the completion of her degree. She has diligently served those around her for many years as a tutor for rural school children and as an advocate in the fight against hunger in her community and around the world.

At The University of North Carolina Wendy plans to actively participate in a student group, Health Focus, which will enable her to use her knowledge and love for health and nutrition to educate youth in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area. She also hopes to promote voter registration amongst her fellow students.
Wendy Clay