I have decided to create a comprehensive, step by step plan for getting out of debt. Please note: I will assume that before you begin your debt reduction, you have saved at least 1000 dollars in an emergency fund and that you have decided to stop adding to your debt load. On to…
On a piece of paper, list every single debt account that you have, including those with zero balances. This list should include credit cards, personal loans, home equity loans, and auto loans. (You may include or exclude your home’s first mortgage.) Next to each account, write down your current balance. Then, write down the interest rate for each account, next to that accounts balance. Add the account balances. You should now have a list that looks something like this:
|Debt Reduction Master Sheet|
|ABC Charge Card||$500.00||11.99%|
|XYZ Charge Card||$1,000.00||12.05%|
|Yippe Auto Loan||$12,000.00||0.00%|
|Zippe Auto Loan||$3,000.00||13.99%|
You now have a clearer understanding of your current debt situation. You have now removed the doubt and fear associated with your debt, and you can now begin to focus your attention on getting rid of you debt.
Pitfalls associated with step 1:
1. Poor record keeping. To understand your total debt situation, you must have accurate, up-to-date information about each of your credit accounts. Sources for this information include your credit card company, your auto loan company, your bank, and any other various lending organizations that you do business with.
2. Difficulty in understanding what your “balance” truly is. Simply call your lender and ask for the PAY-OFF amount. This will give you a really nice “ball-park” figure to work with. You do not have to be super-specific here, but you do want to know what your balance is within a range of a few dollars. This is especially true for automobile loans. Call your auto lender and ask them for your pay-off amount. They will be glad to help you. You can then enter this amount into your chart. (When you receive your next monthly statement from your automobile lender, you will then have an even more accurate balance number to use. Simply plug that number into your chart.)
3. Fear of interest rates. Do not be afraid of your interest rates. In the next few steps, you will work to reduce and/or eliminate interest costs. For this step, simply list your balances and your current rates. This information is very, very important.
So, that is it. Step 1 is complete. You have an accurate summary of your current debt situation. I hope you feel better, and I hope that you are excited about getting out of debt.
3 personal things to consider after completing this step:
1. Stop feeling guilty. Yes, you owe some money. Yes, you feel lousy about it. But, hey, you are doing something about it.
2. Stop the blame-game. Again, feeling bad about your situation will not accomplish anything. You need to get mad. Not mad at yourself, but mad at your debt. Focus your energy towards positive decision making, and not towards feeling sorry for yourself.
3. Get ready. You are going on the greatest journey of your life… The Journey Towards Financial Freedom and Hope! You are going to be debt free!
(Insert Tony Robbins smile here… bling, bling)