By Chuck Bentley
Today, I have some helpful tips. The US News & World Report collected their best advice from experts who assist people who need to pay off more than $100,000 in consumer debt. Here are their tips:
Step 1: First, list all your creditors, including the minimum payments and interest rates. Plan to attack one debt at a time, making minimum payments on all the others. This is often called the “debt snowball” method.
Step 2: Cut expenses. Reduce your expenses, starting with the large ones and going all the way down to the little ones. Every penny you can save and apply toward the debt will help.
Step 3: Make a budget. You can create your budget on paper or use tools. Some people like the envelope system, where you use cash for everything, creating envelopes for each expense category plus savings. Start by writing down every cent you spend. We have forms at Crown.org to help you get started.
Step 4: Earn more money. That could mean getting a new job that pays better, taking a part-time job on the side, or freelancing. You may also be able to sell some of your possessions to generate more cash.
Step 5: Quit using credit cards. If you have a problem with self-control, you need to stop carrying credit cards and plan to pay cash for everything until you can get out of debt.
Step 6: Transfer balances to get a lower interest rate. This is a good option for people with solid credit, as long as you can pay off the balance during the introductory period. Take any balance transfer fees into account.
Step 7: Call your credit card company. If you’re current or not far behind on payments, you may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate or smaller minimum payment. Ask to speak to the hardship department or a supervisor, and be honest.
Step 8: Get counseling. If you decide you need a credit management plan, in which the agency negotiates with your credit card companies, takes one payment from you and then pays your creditors, Crown recommends Christian Credit Counselors.
Step 9: Consult an attorney. This is an especially viable option if you’re considering bankruptcy or have been sued. A credit counseling agency may help you find one.
Step 10: Scrutinize medical bills. Medical debt makes up 52 percent of the bills sent to collections, according to a study last year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Make sure your bills are accurate and that the insurance company has paid its share. If you need financial assistance, ask the hospital or provider.
Step 11: Beware of debt settlement companies. These for-profit companies usually collect money up front and tell you not to pay your bills but instead wait for the debt to become delinquent in hopes of negotiating a settlement. This is unlikely to help you get out of debt.
What was not on the list above is to pray and ask the Lord to give you the courage to start and the strength to persevere until you have become totally debt free. You can do it, if you will start and do not quit!
Originally posted 3/4/2015.
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