The chances are that most people will end up with some form of debt in their lives. You might have a killer student loan that’s lingering in the distance and waiting to strike, or you may have a personal loan that you recently acquired so you could update your kitchen or buy a new car.
In today’s economy, many people simply can’t afford to make high-value purchases all at once. A well-researched loan can be an excellent way to take the stress off your shoulders and balance out the cost of crucial investments. However, it’s important to have a plan for getting rid of the debt that you accumulate.
If you compared your options online before taking out a loan, you’ll hopefully have the lowest interest rate available right now. Take advantage of that fact and get out of debt quickly by avoiding these unhelpful financial behaviors.
Here’s what not to do when you’re in debt.
1. Charge Everything to your Credit Card
Using your credit card while you’re in debt can make you feel like you have more cash in your bank account. After all, a credit card doesn’t take money out of your balance, so you’ll be able to see your savings gradually increasing. However, if you’re not paying off the purchases you make on your credit card, you’ll just be building even more debt that you need to balance out later.
If you’re using your credit card so you can save aside more money to pay off your debt, you could even up owing more money than you did before, due to bigger interest fees from the credit card company.
2. Pay only the Minimum
It isn’t easy to find enough cash for everything these days. Aside from your loan repayments, you’ll also need enough money for your rent or mortgage, your utilities, any car expenses, and countless other things too. It’s no wonder that you might prefer to pay only the minimum for a while.
Unfortunately, your loans will only last for so long. If you reach the end of your term and you haven’t made enough of a dent in the total amount owed, then you’re going to end up with a hefty repayment to worry about one day in the future. Reduce your long-term stress by paying off as much as you can each month – even if that means cutting your budget elsewhere.
3. Avoid Changing your Budget
When you first took your loan out, you might have gone through your budget and decided that everything was where it needed to be so that you could afford your repayments. However, as time has passed by, you might have noticed payments cropping up here and there that you didn’t account for. This means that you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and make sure that your budget still works.
You may even need to re-assess your budget if you feel as though you’re not making progress with your debt quickly enough. Cutting a few extra expenses by just a couple of extra dollars could make a massive difference to your remaining loan balance in the months to come.
4. Skip Saving
Sometimes, when people want to get out of debt as quickly as possible, they assume that the best way to make progress is to cut their budget wherever they can. If you don’t want to give up on your cable subscription or stop eating out with friends, then you might decide to cut down on your savings instead.
However, your savings should be a non-negotiable part of your budget. This is the money that you can turn to if something goes wrong in your life and you need a little extra help. It’s also the cash that can keep you motivated when you’re stressed, and you need evidence that you’re making progress towards your goals. Don’t let your savings suffer when you’re in debt.
5. Jump in without a Plan
Finally, anyone can choose to tackle their debt and make a real dent in the money that they owe. However, the best results always happen when they’re pursued with a plan. Rather than just jumping into your debt strategy without any prior thought, make sure that you take the time to create a solid strategy. You’ll need to know exactly which debts you’re going to pay off first, and where that extra money is going to come from in your budget.
Once you implement your debt repayment plan, make sure that you track your progress so you can see how effective your strategy is. If you’re not making enough progress within a few months, ask yourself if you can do anything differently.