Most people carry debt at some point in their lives. There’s good debt, which means that your overall net worth will eventually be increased by it. Essentially, this is a mortgage and student loans.
The former is considered good because homes usually appreciate while the latter is because on average, a college education results in higher lifetime earnings.
Beyond this, debt usually does little but deplete your resources, particularly when you are paying high interest rates.
Even mortgages and student loan repayments can become onerous in some circumstances. Below are a few things to think about if you’re struggling to repay money that you owe.
Consider Your Behavior
Many end up owing money because of circumstances beyond their control.
They had a medical emergency, they lost a job, they went through a divorce or they another catastrophic personal event that destroyed their financial stability.
However, there are also those who end up owing money because they have managed their finances poorly.
They may shop and spend money when they are stressed or bored. In both situations an important remedy to avoid the same situation happening again is building up an emergency fund that has enough in it to cover at least three months of expenses and more in many cases.
However, not unlike breaking the cycle of addiction, the person who struggles with overspending will need to also work on their habits so that they don’t keep making the same mistakes.
Look For Solutions
There are often things you can do to reduce how much money you owe without paying off a cent.
Credit cards often offer low or no-interest rates on balance transfers for a limited time.
You do need to keep an eye on when that time runs since there is usually a considerable jump in the interest rate. If you have student loans, you might want to see if you are eligible to refinance.
You can research online lenders to find out if you are eligible and to see what repayment terms are available. Lower interest rates can mean paying thousands less over the years ahead.
Making A Plan
You need a concrete plan to pay off your debt. People usually pay off their mortgages and student loans over decades, but when it comes to consumer debt, you should be able to pay back what you owe in roughly five years or less.
Look at how much you would need to pay off each month and make a plan for getting the money to do that if you don’t already have it.
In some cases, you can pick up a second job or gig work and contribute that entire amount to your debt fund.
The most sensible debt removal strategy is paying off the high-interest loan first, but many are often more motivated by getting rid of a smaller debt first.
It can be a terrifying word for many, and it’s not something to be taken on lightly.
However, if you are looking at years of extreme austerity and still being unable to catch up, you may want to consider this.
It’s important to note that student loans can only be forgiven in bankruptcy in very specific and unusual circumstances.
This is true for some other debts as well, such as child support. However, getting rid of credit cards or medical debt can make it possible to focus on paying off the ones you can’t discharge.
There are two main different types of personal bankruptcy, Chapter 7, or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 takes only a few months from filing to discharge.
With Chapter 13, you work out a payment plan with your creditors over three to five years. Chapter 13 can be an excellent idea if you have a home or another major asset you want to protect. One of the main reasons to avoid bankruptcy is because it does have a very negative effect on your credit score.
However, so does missing payments and going to collections. The positive aspect of bankruptcy is that it can give you the chance to start again.
You can rebuild your credit, and the bankruptcy falls off your credit report altogether in seven or ten years depending on the type that you filed.
Consulting an attorney may help you determine whether this is a good option for you or if debt consolidation or another approach would be better.