1. Learn About the Debt You Owe
Learn everything about your debt, including its exact amount. One way to find out how much debt you owe is to check your credit report.
Your credit report will tell you exactly how much debt you owe, who you owe it to, and how to contact your lenders if you have any questions. It will also list the status and payment history of your debts.
Write down how much debt you owe and be sure to find out each loan’s monthly minimum payment, payment due dates, and interest rate.
An interest rate is how much a loan costs the borrower. It’s a percent of the principal, the amount the borrower needs to pay. For example, if you borrowed $100, and the interest rate was 1%, you would owe $1 on top of the $100 you need to pay back, totaling $101.
If loans are not entirely paid off, they accrue more interest based on the interest rate.
2. Make a Plan
Once you have learned about your debt, you need to strategize.
List exactly how much (and what kind of) debt you owe. Next, figure out how much of your monthly income you are comfortable putting towards it every month.
Make sure you are able to make your debt’s monthly payments on time with enough money left over for essentials. This might mean cutting back on spending elsewhere, but an effective budget can help keep you on track.
Quick tip: prioritize your loans with the highest interest rates first. Known as the “avalanche method,” this helps stop debt from building up as you’re trying to pay it off.
While this sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be. You can use Digital Banking to make a budget, monitor your debt, and decide how best to pay it off.
3. Pay More Than Your Required Monthly Payments
If you pay more than you need to every month, you will get ahead of interest and pay your loans off faster. While paying less every month might help your checking account right now, paying more now means you will pay less in the future.
The longer you wait to chip away at your debt, the more time it has to accrue interest and cost you more. If you get your debt out of the way faster, interest has less time to build up, and you will have to pay less in the future.
If this is not an option for you, and the required monthly payments seem overwhelming, you can make biweekly payments.
4. Make Biweekly Payments
Splitting your monthly payments in two makes them more manageable, because the dent in your budget will be spread out.
Instead of one big expense at the end of every month, which may take a large bite out of your account, there will be two smaller ones, leaving more money in your pocket for necessary expenses throughout the month.
Spreading this expense out will help prevent a situation where you are unable to make a bigger monthly payment, which would delay the repayment process. A biweekly payment plan also adds an extra payment a year to your schedule, helping you chip away at the money you owe.
5. Refinance Your Loans
Loan refinance is when an existing loan is transferred to a different lender. The new lender pays off the previous loan and makes another loan with new terms and conditions. Credit Union 1 offers both Auto and Mortgage Refinancing.
Refinancing your loan could give you a lower interest rate and/or make your monthly payments more affordable.
With a lower interest rate, you will owe less down the line, which means you could pay the loan off faster. More affordable monthly payments would give you more money in your monthly budget.
Conversely, you could have increased monthly payments, which would make your debt disappear even sooner by stopping interest from building up, and costing you, over time due to interest.
Debt can seem daunting, but with a plan in place, you can set yourself up for success and a brighter financial future.
If you are a CU1 member, register for Digital Banking and set up your personalized dashboard to use expert budgeting tools today.
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