When you exchanged vows, did you take a moment to actually think about what you were committing to financially? In the standard version, there’s something in there about “richer or poorer,” which means that you agreed to stand by your partner’s side even when liabilities exceed assets.
But it’s no secret that not all unions last forever.
According to the American Psychological Association, 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce. It’s been widely assumed that a large percentage of these individuals had marital issues that stemmed from finances. In fact, a recent study conducted by assistant professor Sonya Britt of Kansas State University revealed that “arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce.”
If you’re in debt, finding a way out can be tough and frustrating, particularly if you’re not the one who incurred the expenses in the first place. Still, you and your partner must be on the same page to actually take action and dig yourself out of the hole.
Truth be told, there is no magic formula for eliminating debt. It just boils down to your commitment to get to the root of the problem and ax the outstanding balances in the most strategic manner possible.
Now, the part that you’ve all been waiting for. Drum roll please …
1. Dial Up the Creditor
Reaching out to the creditor is the one of the most overlooked, yet simplest ways to drive down the accumulation of interest that can make credit card debt unbearable. If your balance is extremely high, a reduction of even a few percentage points in your interest rate can save you a substantial amount of cash.
2. Implement a Strict Spending Plan
The word “budget” is a bit militant, so I’ll use “spending plan” to make my point. Getting out of debt (and staying debt-free) will require you to be disciplined with your finances. That’s where the spending plan comes in, as it will dictate where your money goes before the month even gets started.
Need help creating one, even if money’s tight? Click here.
3. Cut the Extras
Eliminating wants or unnecessary expenses seems like a no-brainer, yet few people actually do so. Anything that is not a necessity needs to be reduced, or eliminated if possible, until you gain some traction in the debt-reduction process.
4. Beef Up Your Income
Unless management is handing out raises at your place of employment, you’ll want to increase your income in any way possible, whether it be through overtime, freelance work or a part-time job.
5. Handle Surprise Income With Care
Received a surprise package in the mail? That’s both good and bad news, but we’ll cover the latter first. Sorry, but any extra income must be allocated to debt to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, the good news is that you now have another source to use toward debt.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Not sure how to get started? These concrete steps will help:
- Face the music. Assuming that you haven’t already done so, it’s time to sit down and chop it up. The first step to dealing with a problem is admitting that you have one, and outstanding debt is no different.
- Make a list. Once you have laid everything on the table, devise a detailed list to determine where you stand numerically with the outstanding balances. It should include the creditor’s name, phone number, minimum payment, APR, available credit and outstanding balance.
- Determine how much cash you need. You can do this by plugging the balance, APR and monthly payment amount into the Federal Reserve’s payoff calculator. It will give you an accurate idea of where you stand and what it will take to accomplish your goals.
- Devise a plan of action. It’s usually best to focus on the debts with the highest interest rates so the exorbitant interest will not suffocate you, at least in the case of credit cards.
- Execute. Before doing so, remember to move delinquent accounts to the top of your list of priorities and stop using the cards immediately to avoid any temptation and setbacks.
This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.
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