Credit
December 17, 2015

Household Debt is on the Rise: How to Get Yours Under Control

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Household debt rose 15 percent nationwide this year, which means a real burden for those dealing with increased financial insecurity. Fortunately, strategies exist that can help you lower your debt and reduce your debt payments. Consider these three strategies for managing your own debt.

If you owe your creditors a lot of money and you’re behind, it’s time to think about negotiating strategies. In general, use the following:

  • Aim for paying about 50 percent of your debt, which is often what unsecured creditors will accept. Sometimes they’ll go as low as 30 percent. Start even lower by offering 15 to 20 percent.
  • Don’t be afraid to threaten bankruptcy. Creditors who think you might choose bankruptcy are more likely to settle your debt for less if they think they’ll recoup some money instead of losing it all.
  • Be prepared to pay creditors as quickly as possible. Creditors might settle for less if you have cash to quickly pay off at least some of your debt.
  • Not having luck with creditors? Try using a middle-man service between you and your creditors.
  • You can consolidate credit cards under one single credit card. The interest rate will usually be lower, and you’ll have a clear view of how much to pay each month.
  • You can also consolidate your debt under a personal loan from a bank. A personal loan often features much lower interest rates than credit cards, but the catch is you need an excellent credit score.
  • Debt consolidation can also be achieved with a personal line of credit from a bank. However, those with a lower credit score may have to pay a higher interest rate.

It may be tempting to make only minimum payments, which are typically two to three percent of your outstanding debt, but this only makes things worse. After all, the longer you take to reduce your debt, the more total interest you pay. Many banks and credit card companies actually like when you pay only the minimum balance since they benefit.

If your monthly payment is $200, for example, try to double it to $400 or more. Find ways to cut back on monthly spending, and you’ll have extra money to make higher payments than the minimum. In the long term, you’ll save money by paying off your debt faster and owing less debt overall.

Ultimately, controlling your debt requires smart budgeting, financial sacrifices and limiting your spending. However, if your debt is out of control, one or more of these strategies can help.

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