If the amount you owe others is at an uncomfortable level, here are some powerful tips for lowering your debt.
Ask for help
Many nonprofit debt counseling centers across the country will advise you for a low fee or at no charge. Some lenders will recommend debt counselors to you. Contact a customer service representative at your lender for referrals. Or, contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service in your area. (Check the White Pages in your phone book.) They can often help you work out a repayment plan with your creditors.
Make a written plan
Make a list of all your bills and their amounts. Figure out when each bill can be paid.
Contact your creditors
Contact your credit card company or other creditors to try to get your rate lowered or a different payment plan worked out.
Pay more than the minimum
Make more than the minimum monthly payment on credit cards. You will save lots of money on interest and reduce or eliminate your debt much sooner.
Don’t take on any new debt
Stop using your credit cards. Say no to offers for credit cards, debt consolidation, and second mortgages. Only get a cash advance when it’s absolutely necessary! The interest rates are usually higher (than for card purchases), and the rates are put into effect immediately, without a thirty-day grace period. Most banks also charge a service fee based on how much cash you’re withdrawing. The same applies to personalized “checks” some credit card companies may send you.
Minimize rates and fees
Educate yourself about the annual fees, current interest rates, finance charges, cash-advance fees, and any other fees tied to your card. This can help you make better decisions about which card to use and how to manage your credit. Transfer balances to cards with lower interest rates or to cards offering the same (or lower) interest rates that also offer the benefit of a low introductory rate (usually for six months).
Don’t give up
Reducing your debt is challenging, but don’t stop trying. It’s one of the most important things you can do for a better financial future.
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