Is Debt-Free 2015 Possible? Start Planning Now
Medical bills, car and mortgage payments, and card balances add up unless you acquire good financial and budgeting skills. Specialist advice and online spending and budget tools can help sort out your finances for a debt-free new year.
1. Get a Good Look at Your Budget
The first step is to look at your family’s budget, income, and expenses. Make a list of all sources of income, including bonuses, wages, salary, rental income, cash in savings accounts, employee achievement awards, child support payments, and others. Then list all expenses, for example, utility bills, insurance premiums, groceries, rent, loan and credit card payments, and others. Compare your expenses and income to see where your money is going. This will help you to make a good decision about future purchases and how to allocate your money.
TOOLS: Budget Tools and Calculators
One option is to use online budget tools such as planners and calculators. Some tools help track sources of income, spending, and savings, investment, and checking accounts. There are online budget calculators that allow users to develop a budget based on their total income and expenses such as health and medical bills, clothing, transportation, housing, food, utilities, and others. There is an option to print your budget. Some online calculators allow users to plug in monthly expenses and savings and annual income and expenses.
2. Set Your Financial Goals
Setting your financial goals is also a very important step. Consider factors such as total debt, income level, household size, age of family members, and others. If you have excessive debt, it may be a good idea to prioritize debts. Setting up an emergency fund is also a good idea. You may want to open a savings account to save for unexpected expenses such as medical bills and car and home repairs.
Think of long-term and short-term financial goals you want to achieve. Examples of short-term goals are saving for a summer holiday or car down payment, minor home improvements and projects, buying furniture or electronics, and others. In general, these are goals to achieve over a period of 1 – 2 years. Long-term financial goals take more time to achieve, i.e. 5 – 15 years. Examples are saving for retirement or college education, saving for a large mortgage down payment, and others. Such goals require financial commitment and discipline.
TOOLS: Financial Goal Calculators and Other Tools
There are some tools that help set your financial goals, including money saving apps, tools to track spending, financial goal calculators, and others. Financial goal calculators ask users about their monthly income before taxes. Users can choose from different goals, for example, saving for retirement and getting out of debt. If you are looking for ways to get rid of debt, choose this option and plug in details such as payment frequency, interest rate, current balance, type of debt, target end date, payments, amount, and others. There is an option to view a debt chart.
3. Reduce Your Spending
This is one way to get out of debt quicker. Look at your list of expenses to see if you can reduce your spending. There are different ways to cut your spending without changing your lifestyle too much. It is a good idea to create a shopping list to avoid buying on impulse. You will also save on gas by making a single trip to the grocery store. Compare prices at different stores and clip coupons to reduce your spending. Instead of eating out, you may want to pack your lunch to save money. Unsubscribe to sales alerts to avoid impulse purchases.
TOOLS: Cut Back Calculators to Track and Reduce Spending
You can also use different online tools that help reduce your spending. There are cut back calculators that allow users to choose from different purchases, for example, takeaways, petrol, music, magazines, lottery tickets, gym, and movies. You can also choose from fares, coffee, cigarettes, chocolate, alcohol, and other purchases. You are also asked about the price and purchase frequency. For example, if you smoke 1 pack a day and it costs $4.50, you will save $135 a month.
4. Use Debt Consolidation Specialist/Service
Using a debt consolidation service is also an option if you have high interest balances. Consolidation specialists help customers to secure a lower interest rate and more affordable payments.
In general, debt consolidation is an alternative to bankruptcy, credit counseling, and consumer proposal and can be used for unsecured loans. If you have multiple high-interest cards, you may want to transfer your balances to a low-interest credit card. The right approach depends on the types of debt you have, the amounts owed or outstanding balances, the interest charges, repayment terms, credit standing, and other factors. Debt consolidation specialists offer professional advice and counseling and free savings estimates. Your consolidation specialist will ask about the total debt held, including student loans, health club memberships, lines of credit, medical bills, and legal bills. Other types of unsecured debt include cell phone bills, personal loans, department store credit cards, and unsecured credit cards. Secured loans are not accepted, including auto loans and mortgages that require collateral. Specialists also offer personalized solutions to your debt worries as well as tools, tips, education, and resources.
TOOLS: Debt Consolidation Calculators
You can use debt consolidation calculators to find out how much you will save. To this, choose from different types of debt such as retail credit cards, standard credit cards, consumer loans, and others. Enter the estimated monthly payment, current balance, and annual percentage rate.
5. Become Debt Free
There are different ways to go about excessive debt and alternatives to choose from. Options to consider include settlement, debt management plans, budget planning, individual voluntary arrangement, and self-money management. Other options include formal proposal, negotiation, and debt restructuring. These are alternatives to bankruptcy, and the choice depends on whether you have delinquent or excessive debts and other factors. A home equity loan is one option if you have debt problems. In this case, your home equity is used for loan repayment. The good thing about home equity loans is that lenders offer attractive interest rates because your home serves as collateral and a guarantee of repayment. A debt management plan is another option to pay down your outstanding balances. In this case, your financial institution may be willing to lower the interest rate to make payments more affordable, especially if you are about to default. Finally, debt settlement is yet another option to become debt free. This method involves a cash settlement with your financial institution. A one-time payment is required in exchange for a partial debt payment.