Get Your Finances Back On Track
For anyone managing debt, have no fear. There’s help and there are a lot of great resources that you can tap into. Whether you have student loan debt, credit cards from college, or day-to-day debt that you can’t manage, consider these key tools to help you get your bills paid off and get your finances back on track:
While you might not think credit card debt can be paid off, there are a lot of key things to consider that can cut your bill down dramatically. Check out these key points to help get you started:
Are you paying extra fees? For some credit card companies, if they’ve charged you a late fee after 5pm because you didn’t see the fine print on their website, you can ask them to reverse this for every month they overcharged you. Banks are coming under scrutiny for hiding times and charging consumers late fees.
Are you on automatic payments but you’re still being charged a late fee? Call and have this reversed. If you set up your payment for the 15th of the month and your bank changed the due date to the 1st, you may have missed the email notification. Challenge it and this can place money back into your account.
Next up, look at your interest rate and see if you can consolidate all your cards into the account that has the lowest interest rate. This can help as you will be paying less over time and can work down your debt month by month. For more information on credit card help and finances, check out Suze Orman’s site, or David Bach’s site on how to “Finish Rich.”
Cable/Internet: This is one area where a lot of overspending can contribute to debt and you may not realize it. For example, if you have cable and you’re paying $100 to $150 a month and going out to movies, cut the cable and only keep the Internet. Buy a Roku or other streaming device and get the same content for free. Add Netflix and Hulu and you’re only spending $14 a month. Need ESPN and CNN? You can get Sling for $20 a month.
Phone: If you’re making calls from your cell and you have a landline too, cut the landline. A lot of people use smartphones for all their calls and sometimes a second line is free depending on your plan. While you’re at it, call your cell phone company and ask for a cheaper plan. They’ll give it to you because they want your business and chances are they’re running an offer on their site that will get you a great deal.
General Spending: Robert Kiyosaki who wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad suggests mapping out how much you spend each month and on what. If you use cash and don’t save your receipts, now’s the time to start keeping track. Areas that you can cut back on include:
- Dining out at restaurants every night and ordering lunches at work every day
- Buying rounds of drinks for everyone and bar hopping on your tab
- Going out to parties, movies and shows several times a month
These are areas where you may be over spending and if you cut down, or cut these areas out altogether, this can give you more money for bills. No one wants to be a Scrooge, so try to reward yourself with a movie once a month – preferably a matinee. Check out sites like Goldstar, or look for restaurant deals on Groupon. These are all cost saving ways that can help you reduce overspending.
Speak to a Debt Counselor
If you find that you feel like your head is underwater because you have suffered from a job loss, sickness, or loss of extra income, that’s the perfect time to speak to a debt counselor. There are free services that are all licensed and reputable. These services are set up to help with high medical debts, school loans that are in default or are about to default, and general questions about getting on a budget plan to help you curb spending and pay down your bills. Debt counselors can help you to:
- Get on a spending plan
- Pay off your smallest bills first and then use the extra money for the higher bills
- Teach you how to always make the minimum payment because you need your credit score
- Create a monthly spending plan and pay your bills on time every month to avoid extra fees
The main takeaway to keep in mind is that everyone goes through a financial crunch of some sort. Now’s the time to fix it and when you do, let the round of drinks be on the other guy!