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Goodbye Debt, Hello Savings

 

Some of the easiest things to do are to sign on the line for that car we need or that student loan to fund our education, or even build up too many monthly bills. One of the hardest things: paying off debt and growing a savings. It is so important, perhaps now more than ever, that we pay down our debt. The credit bureau, Experian, reports that the average person has about $4700 in credit card debt alone.

 

Dave Ramsey¹ has a really good plan of attack on debt. Take a look at the balance owed on each loan, regardless of the interest rate. Pay off the smallest balance first. That payment is then added to the next smallest, and then added to the next, and so forth. Being able to see the loans paid off quickly not only keeps us motivated to continue, but it shows us exactly how much our monthly bills are.

 

Focusing on paying off bills quickly has many benefits. Unexpected bills will always come up and the further you are in debt, those extra payments hurt more. Living with less debt gives people a sense of security. It has also been proven that those who live with less debt have less stress and live happier lives. Keeping up with the Jones’ comes with a big stress not only on your finances but your health.

 

How nice it would be to live with less debt. The reality of life is we will all at some point need financing for some reason; however, it is possible to minimize our debt. Paying bills and having extra at the end of the month to help a family member, friend, go on vacation, etc. can be very fulfilling.

 

Don’t be discouraged that the bills take the entire paycheck or that the process looks overwhelming. This will take time. Changing habits take time just like knocking down debt. Make time each month to take a good look at your finances. Stay on top of them before the bills get too out of hand. Be realistic about the bills. Not having anything at the end of the month is over extending your paycheck. Look at how much the bill is in comparison to your paycheck. How long does it take you to work to earn enough money to make that payment? Looking at it that way makes things less desirable.

 

Most importantly, talk to your creditors and be honest with them. If you are struggling with payments see if there is something they can work out with you. Most of the time they will be happy to help before it becomes overwhelming and both parties lose. If you want to consolidate your payments, see if your financial institution will help. Sometimes having just that one payment that can be broken down into each paycheck can be helpful. Put bills on autopay that way they don’t fall behind. Just make sure the money is there to cover it so there aren’t added fees.

 

Debt is a part of life and can consume most of our attention. But paying down debt can free up a lot more than just a little money in the account. It can free our time and energy up for the joys of life. You deserve to be happy so take the time to look at your bills. Be honest with yourself and see what you can afford to do. Then stick to it. Just because there are no results today doesn’t mean in a few months the strings of debt won’t be a little looser.

 

Christina Buckley
cbuckley@jacksonareafcu.com

 

¹On Dave Ramsey’s website, www.daveramsey.com, he has tools that you can use to help take a closer look at your debt. There are other articles that can help keep motivated on paying off these loans.

 

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