Updated June 2023
If paying off debt were easy, fewer people would be in debt! We know that’s not the case because the average American household has more than $9,654 in debt, and the average American with credit card debt owes $3,911.
The problem is not that we have debt, but instead, the mistakes that we are making that cause our debt to get out of hand.
In this article
- Why is My Debt Out of Control?
- Top Reasons for Out-of-Control Debt
- How to Pay Off Debt Fast
- Mistakes to Avoid When Paying Off Debt
- How can I tell if my spending habits are healthy?
- How will I know when I am ready for new debt?
- Is debt consolidation my only option?
Why is My Debt Out of Control?
Most Americans have trouble with their debt because they’ve taken on more than they can afford to pay. Sometimes this is because of poor spending habits, but often debt can balloon out of control as a result of financial hardship or income insecurity.
If you lose your job and do not have an emergency fund, then you can be in trouble quickly. Additionally, if you have taken on high-interest debt, you may find yourself unable to keep up with a rapidly growing principal balance.
Top Reasons People Are In Debt
- Financial Hardship
- Income Insecurity
- Poor Spending Habits
- High-Interest Debt
Unfortunately, getting out of debt involves more than a resolve to do so. Regularly paying on your credit cards and loans is certainly important, but may not make a dent in your debt if you are making other financial mistakes.
How to Pay Off Debt Fast
- Take inventory of all your debt
- Change your spending habits
- Learn how to budget and prioritize your debt
- Consolidate debt
- Get help from Consolidation Specialists
Making real progress means changing spending habits, learning how to budget, knowing to whom and how much you owe, prioritizing debts; creating emergency and retirement funds, and knowing where to find help when you get off track. Sometimes, the best way to get out of debt is to work with Consolidation Specialists who can help you choose the right payoff strategy.
In other words, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. It’s also likely that you’re going to make some mistakes along the way. Here are a few of the most typical and how to avoid them.
Mistakes to Avoid When Paying Off Debt
- Never Changing Your Spending Habits
- Taking on New Debt Too Soon
- Not Consolidating Your Debt
Mistake #1: Never Changing Your Spending Habits
We are creatures of habit. We shop in the same stores, buy the same brands, even eat in the same restaurants because it’s what makes us comfortable. What you don’t realize is it could be costing you more than you can handle financially. Changing your spending habits is essential to getting out of and preventing future debt.
How can I tell if my spending habits are healthy?
Look at your spending over the course of one month. Where are you spending the most money?
- Are you buying coffee every morning?
- Do you get takeout for lunch and dinner regularly?
- Do you buy more expensive brands because you haven’t considered alternatives?
- Do you regularly spend a lot of money on non-essential shopping?
- Do you have lots of subscriptions you don’t need?
You can eliminate a lot of extra spending by changing small habits, finding substitutes for more expensive products, and canceling old subscriptions.
Mistake #2: Taking on New Debt Too Soon
If you are making regular payments and making progress toward paying down your debt, you may have the urge to celebrate by taking on new debt. Even though you might think you are ready to start paying for a new car or opening a new store credit card, for example, it’s usually not a good idea.
Taking on new debt can hurt your credit score, and if you overestimate your ability to start paying new bills, you could quickly get in over your head in payments that you can’t afford.
Paying down debt takes time. Debt consolidation services, for example, typically take 24-48 months, and balance transfers and debt consolidation loans could take even longer, depending on the options you choose. This means you will need to be patient.
How will I know when I am ready for new debt?
You should never take on a loan or spend money on a credit card if you cannot afford the monthly payments required to pay it back. Even if you have a high income and can afford the payments, you’ll want to make sure that you are practicing good habits that will help you repair your credit.
You Might Be Ready For New Debt If:
- You have a steady income and can afford the payments.
- You have an emergency fund.
- Your Debt Utilization is under 35%.
- You have no late payments or delinquent debt.
- Your credit score has improved after 6-12 months of on-time payments.
Mistake #3: Not Consolidating Your Debt
If you have multiple debts to pay every month, you could be spending more money than you should in interest. Debt consolidation is a common way to refinance your debt. It involves paying off high-interest credit card debt with a new lower-interest credit card or loan. Having one interest rate on your debt that is a fraction of a percentage lower can save you money over time.
Consolidating your debt allows you to focus on making one payment on the new loan rather than multiple payments.
Is debt consolidation my only option?
If you are considering debt consolidation, you may also want to consider speaking with a Consolidation Specialist about a debt consolidation option. These are alternatives to bankruptcy and making minimum payments that could lower the burden of your debt!
It might be right for you if:
- You need to pay off more than $30,000 in credit card debt.
- You are struggling to make minimum payments.
- You can’t qualify for a consolidation loan.
- You want an alternative to bankruptcy.
Top Company for Paying Off $25,000 or More
Debt Consolidation Options
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