Making ends meet has been becoming increasingly difficult for many Americans. With the average U.S. household carrying over $16,000 in credit card debt, the majority of Americans are forced to live paycheck to paycheck. Having difficulty paying your debt always leads to more debt, aka the “cycle of debt” With some determination and a few sacrifices, however, you can get ahead of things and actually pay down your debt and start to save money. It’s time to face your debt head on!
Get a copy of your credit report. This will not only allow you to check your credit score, but it will have a fairly accurate representation of how much you owe (depending on when your creditors report their information) and who all of your creditors are.
Consider downsizing. For many of us, our home is our biggest expense. Moving into a smaller apartment or selling your house for a less expensive one may help your financial situation a lot. Of course, selling your house may not be the most cost-saving move, depending on the market and how much you owe on it. Downsizing may seem drastic, but if your debt is only growing, you’re living beyond your means. Re-evaluating your situation and making a few changes can allow you to get back on track and maybe even get ahead of the game.
Cut the cable. The cost of cable has gone through the roof in recent years, and it still seems like there’s never anything on tv! By cutting the cable and using a streaming service like Netflix, you can save close to $2,000 a year in some markets. Keep in mind that if your cable company is also your internet provider, dropping cable may make your internet costs go up. If you still want to keep cable, scale back to a smaller package. You can save up to $100 a month and still have many cable channels to enjoy.
Get a side job. Be a dog walker, Uber driver, do odd jobs, babysit. Anything that will bring in some extra cash to pay your bills. Make sure that the money you make from your side job is dedicated to paying bills only.
Sell your stuff. We all have stuff that we don’t need that others may want. Have a yard sale and free yourself from the weight of all that stuff you don’t need anymore or sell it online on eBay or Craig’s List.
Pay more than the minimum. If possible, always pay more than the minimum on your credit cards. If you were only making payments of the minimum payment amount, a credit card with a $5,000 and a 14% APR would take 22 years to pay off. If the minimum is all you can swing at the moment, make an effort to send in extra payments anytime you happen to have a little extra cash.
Use a coin jar. It’s surprising how much change we accumulate every day. By setting a coin jar in a convenient spot, your family can empty their pockets at the end of the day. Don’t be one of those people counting out exact change at the register, put it in the jar! Every little bit helps.
Use a budget app. It may seem obvious, but if you’re going to get out of the cycle of debt, you’ve got to stick to a budget. First, make it reasonable. It’s harder to stick to a budget if there’s no allowance for some fun here and there. There are many budget apps that you can download for your phone or iPad that make sticking to your budget easy and somewhat painless.
Lose the subscriptions. Cancel any subscriptions to magazines, audiobooks, and stop buying books or movies. Visit your local library instead. While you’re there, check out their museum passes. Most libraries offer museum passes for free or discounted admission to local museums so you can save money on entertainment as well.
As much as you may want to, you can’t stick your head in the sand and pretend your money problems don’t exist. No one’s financial problems ever went away by being ignored. The time to get out of debt is now, and by making a few changes, you can begin your journey to financial stability.
Just because you’ve accumulated a lot of debt, it doesn’t mean you’re a deadbeat, you’re lazy, or careless with money. In fact, many people fall into financial distress after an illness, divorce, or job loss. It takes time to get back on your feet. But sometimes the debt is too overwhelming to overcome and more serious measures need to be considered, such as bankruptcy. Bankruptcy isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. It’s a way to get a fresh start. It may not be for everybody, but bankruptcy can help you get control over staggering debt or even eliminate it altogether, and although it is a hit to your credit standing, you can begin to rebuild that once the bankruptcy has been discharged.
The attorneys at Miller, Hollander & Jeda are experts in the field of bankruptcy law and can help you determine whether or not bankruptcy is the right solution to your financial problems. Call them for a consultation today at (239)775-2000 and make a move to get yourself out of the cycle of debt.