Getting out of debt isn’t easy, but getting started on the process is. The amounts you owe may seem too big for you to ever pay off and so you feel frozen, as though you don’t know where to begin. Luckily, there are some easy, basic steps that will help you kick-off the process so you’ll know exactly where you stand and what you need to do to get your finances back on track.
Tally Your Debt
The first step towards getting out of debt is determining how much you actually owe. To tally your total debt, find your most recent statements from all of your creditors. These can include credit cards, student loans, mortgages, car loans, business loans, and anyone else you owe money to.
Add up the amounts you owe each lender. Subtract any payments that you’ve made since receiving the statement and you’ll have the total amount you owe right now. An accurate snapshot of your financial situation is important.
You’ll also want to add up the amount that each lender wants you to pay each month. Start with the minimum they require, so you can determine the monthly obligation that you absolutely must meet.
Determine How Much You Can Pay
Once you’ve totaled your debt and caught your breath, you’ll need to determine how much money you can afford to put towards your debt each month. Add up all of your sources of income.
Be sure to include income from unconventional sources, like items you sell on eBay or profits from your band’s album. However, be realistic about these and only put down what you know you can count on.
Your total here will be your monthly income. Subtract from it all necessary expenses, like rent, food, child support payments, etc. What you have leftover is the amount you can put toward your debt.
Figure Out Your Payment Schedule
Hopefully, the amount you came up with in the second part of your calculations is equal to or larger than the amount from your first calculations. In order to effectively work toward getting out of debt, you’ll need to be able to make payments on each account every month. If you won’t be able to do that, you’ll need to get some professional credit counseling to continue the process.
As long as you can make your minimum payments on each lender’s account each month, you should be able to work towards getting out of debt. From the total amount you have to put towards your debt, subtract the amount that will be put towards making minimum payments on each account.
Anything you have left over now is extra. Instead of spending it on yourself, choose one lender’s account to put all of your extra money towards. Many people choose to start with the account where they owe the lowest amount. Paying extra on this account will help you pay it off faster. Once it is paid off, you will have even more money to put towards another account. In this fashion, you will be able to achieve your goal of getting out of debt.