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Prioritizing Your Debt

Prioritizing debt is an important skill to learn because it determines how fast you will pay down your debts. Debts have varying payback plans that will require you to place them on a scale to decide which should go first. Obviously, the interest rate is an important factor to consider when prioritizing your debt. It is advisable to have a strategy for paying your debts so that your other financial goals can be met. Debts are known to affect the attainment of one’s financial goals. There are a few strategies you can try that can help you prioritize your debts for easy payment. Some of these strategies include starting with the debt with the highest interest rate; starting with the least balance; starting with the highest balance; and consolidating your debts.

Starting with The Debt with Highest Interest Rate

This is known as debt avalanche. It entails you starting off paying the debt with the highest interest rate to the least. Debts with high-interest rates are always difficult to pay because of the accumulation of the interests. Getting it off your books first will save you money and help you focus on paying off other debts and financial goals. Picture an avalanche and imagine your debt tumbling down quickly. That is how this strategy works.

Starting with The Debt with the Least Balance

This strategy is good for gaining momentum. It is known as the snowball debt repayment strategy, and it is more motivational than strategic. If you are finding it difficult to figure out how to pay your debt, start from the lowest and gradually work your way up. Another advantage is that it gives you that little bit of extra cash to tackle your big debts. This strategy also comes in handy where you feel you cannot adopt the previous strategy. Start with the least balance.

Starting with Your Largest Balance

This is the opposite of snowball strategy. This strategy prioritizes the debt with the largest balance, and it is an unpopular strategy because it may be difficult to achieve. The question is why will I start with my highest debt? It may not give room for other financial goals because all your resources will be channeled towards paying off that debt. However, there are cases where you may opt for this type of strategy. An example is when that particular debt has a promotion of a reduced interest rate, and you need to pay it off before the promotion ends.

Consolidating Your Debts

This is usually what you resort to when it is taking too long to pay your debts, or the interest rates are making it difficult to get it off your books. When you consolidate your debts, it gives you the opportunity of paying all your debts at once. You can take a loan to pay for your consolidated debts which then leaves you with the repayment of that loan only. For example, you can consolidate all your credit card debts and pay them off with a balance transfer credit card. This strategy is particularly effective when you have multiple debts that are hindering you from achieving your financial goals.

 

 

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Good Debt vs Bad Debt

The very nature of debt implies that there is nothing good about it. No debt is good debt. However, taking debt is almost the only way most people can stay afloat. What differentiates a good debt from bad debt is the purpose of the loan. While some loans are a necessary evil, some unnecessary debts drag one into a financial abyss that may be difficult to climb out of.

What Is Good Debt?

Good debts are generally referred to as future investments that will appreciate in due time. The phrase ‘it takes money to make more money’ comes to mind. There are loans you may need to take to generate more income and build your net worth. Such loans are justified because they are needed investments for a future reward. Paying such loans back is not usually a problem because you would have used it to make double the loan. Examples of good debts include student loans, business loans, and mortgages.

However, there is an inherent risk in taking a ‘good debt’. As was mentioned earlier, debts are generally an inconvenience on one’s financial plan, so there is always that inherent risk when taking a loan even when it is supposedly going to build your wealth and increase your net worth in the future. When you take a loan for investment, there are a lot of assumptions involved. Nothing is certain; you may not get the return you hope for but what’s life without risk. This is why it is always advisable to be conservative about your projections. In other words, when taking a loan, always consider when the return will start coming in and what will be the amount of returns you will be expecting. Juxtapose it with the loan you are taking and ask yourself if it is worth it. When it comes to debts, there are no guarantees, even for good debts, the purpose of the loan is all that matters.

What Is Bad Debt?

Debt is said to be bad when you are borrowing to purchase a depreciating asset or an asset you do not need. Borrowing money to acquire a want and not a need is usually ill-advised. Financial advisers will say if the money will not increase in value or generate more money for you, then don’t borrow. Borrowing money to purchase a depreciating asset will only put you in more debt. The risks in a bad debt are visible as day. Examples of bad debt include car loans, credit card loans for shopping, football tickets, etc…

Other Debts

There are other types of debt that do not fall within the category of good or bad debt. These are debts that are relative to everyone’s financial capacity at the time of taking the debt. These types of debts may be good for one person and bad for the other. Someone with enough financial cushion may afford to take further loans to pay off his other debts or invest in more portfolios compared to someone already drowning in debt.

Debt Choices

As discussed, be it a good or bad debt, the reality is that it is still a debt, and you must pay it back. In deciding what type of debt to take, you must consider the type and purpose of the debt. This will help you determine whether a debt is truly worth it. Are you investing in your future or satisfying your wants? That question will help you in deciding whether to take the loan or not.

Credit Card Debt Is Your Financial Worst Enemy

Credit card debt is a recurring debt you are allowed to owe as long as you don’t exceed your credit limit. A credit card account is tempting as you can get whatever you want on credit as long as it is within your limit. It is always advised that you shouldn’t make purchases you cannot afford to cover at month-end. Another tricky feature of a credit card account is their interest rate charges on your debt until you fully pay. Payment is usually due at month-end and failure to pay as and when due would result in the accumulation of your debt as annual interest will be charged on the amount owed. There is also a minimum payment of 1% to 2% of your balance plus other charges that must be made to ensure you keep crediting your account. If you pay less than this minimum payment, interests will be charged, and it will keep on accumulating. Owning a credit card account can be a nightmare if not properly managed.

Tips On How To Overcome Credit Card Nightmare

The basic truth about overcoming a credit card nightmare is by taking charge of your spending. If you get this right, then you will enjoy the benefit of a credit card account. Here are some tips on how you can overcome your credit card nightmare:

  •  Know Your Credit Card – Get as much information as you can on your current credit cards or potential ones. Research the issuer’s payment schedule and other terms and conditions. Be sure to confirm the interest rate and other fees that will be charged if you delay your monthly payment. You can set up automatic payments and calendar alerts to avoid falling behind on your payment.
  • Be Disciplined – You should set spending rules on your credit card that you must follow. You can set a limit on your credit card expenses in a month. This will give you control of your spending and ensure that you live within your means. It is advisable to charge on your credit card what you can normally pay for with cash or debit card.
  • Keep Track – You should routinely keep track of the status of your account at least every week. Charges accumulate without notifying you, so it is advisable to check your account at least once a week to know the state your account is in. Adopting this principle will help you track your credit card debts, the types of credit you have, and your repayment history. These are what lenders will use to rate your credit score.
  • Avoid Cash Advances – Having a credit card account that can take care of things when you can’t afford it is quite tempting. You tend to want to take cash advances because you know you have a credit card account that can take care of things. Cash advances from your credit card account result in higher interest rates and transaction fees. There is no moratorium on your cash advance. Interest is charged immediately you take the cash advance. Avoiding a cash advance will put you in full control of your credit card account.

Tips On How To Prevent Accumulation Of Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is easy to accumulate but difficult to do repay. The only way to avoid credit card debt is to prevent it from accumulating in the first place. Here are some tips on preventing credit card debt accumulation:

  • Negotiate Your Interest Rate – Negotiating your interest rate on your credit card debt will go a long way in reducing credit card debt accumulation. The interest rates on your credit card debt are what make it difficult to settle your debt. Negotiate your interest rates with your credit card issuer so you can get the best deal possible.
  • Forget You Own A Credit Card Account – Once you are in a credit card debt, a trick you can try to prevent accumulating debt is to put your credit card away for other purchases, at least until you meet up with your monthly repayment. That is why it is advisable to use your credit card for short-term financial needs such as utilities, groceries, and some other monthly bills. This will lighten the burden on your credit card account by keeping your balance within a reasonable limit. If you can avoid using your credit card for a while, it will go a long way in reducing your debt burden.
  • Pay Your Debt As and When Due – Simply put, what makes your credit card debt pile up are the charges and interest rates on delayed payments. The best way to get over this is to pay your credit card debt as and due. Missing a due payment can leave you playing catch up. Your next payment will be for two months.
  • Watch Your Spending – A credit card account can leave you spending lavishly but you need to caution yourself and stick to what you can afford. Going for everything you see for sale is part of what gives you credit card debt. It is advisable to always avoid unnecessary spending.