Dealing With Debt
If money management isn't something you enjoy, consider my perspective. I look at managing my money as if it were a part-time job. The time you spend monitoring your finances will pay off. You can make real money by cutting expenses and earning more interest on savings and investments. I'd challenge you to find a part-time job where you could potentially earn as much money for just an hour or two of your time.
Some personal finance experts think all debt is bad, but that isn’t necessarily so. A loan can make all the difference between getting a degree needed for a high-paying job, for example, owning your own home, or starting your own business—and losing those opportunities. Evaluate your debt to figure out what kind of debt you have so you can prioritize paying it down or using your money for other purposes. Two simple questions can help you decide if debt is “good” or “bad”: Is the debt temporary or a lifestyle? And is it worth it?
The average person carries $27,000 in student loan debt—a huge burden. The good news is you can refinance your student loans and save over a thousand dollars in doing so. You might even be able to get your student loans forgiven or paid for by your employer and eliminate that debt entirely. If you need help managing your loans, Tuitio.io can help you find the most effective plan to tackle your student loans or you can use simple Excel formulas to compare different student loan options.
Pay Off Your Credit Cards with Balance Transfer
You’ve probably received offers in the mail that promise to consolidate all your credit card debt into one low-interest bill—either through a debt consolidation loan or credit card balance transfers. Are they a good idea? While attractive, debt consolidation loans usually don’t make sense if the loan will cost you more over the long haul compared to paying your cards down faster. With credit card balance transfer offers (e.g., 0% promotional APRs), you’d have to pay a fee for transferring your debt to the other card and make sure you pay all the debt off before the promotional period is over. In both cases, do the math to make sure it’s worth it.
Negotiate your Credit Card Loans
A lower interest rate will help you pay off your credit card balances faster. All you have to do is ask, and if you’re successful, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on your credit card balance. If you’ve got medical bills—one of the biggest sources of financial distress and common causes of debt—you might be able to get financial aid from the hospital or negotiate that medical bill. You might be able to settle other debts if you can’t pay them back completely.
Pay Your Most Painful Debts First
All debt is sort of painful and can take an emotional toll on us. While there are lots of approaches to tackling debt, consider paying off the ones that have the biggest emotional impact on you. For example, pay off that loan from your in-laws before your pay down your credit card. Also, personalizing your debt could make you more motivated to pay it off more quickly: Remember what you bought with the debt in the first place to prevent you from getting into more debt or feel better when you pay it down.
Pay Down Debt and Invest at the Same Time
You want to get rid of your debt but you need an emergency fund and don’t want to lose out on the power of compounding to help with your retirement savings. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. You can pay down debt and invest at the same time. Perhaps prioritize your most expensive debts (ones with interest rates above 6%) and save some money as well. Budget for an emergency fund, debt, and retirement. This hybrid approach appeals to our emotional needs while also meeting our financial goals.