Oct 27, 2009

Freedom: Debt Management Is the First Step

              Freedom Debt Management is a 501c3 community service organization, a non-profit that provides free and confidential solutions related to personal finance management. I haven’t used their services, as I live outside the USA, but I suppose that only the initial counseling session is free of charge, otherwise it’s hard for me to imagine how they manage to pay those professionally trained counselors and debt relief specialists. You’d probably have to pay a fee to access their debt management programs and plans, but if you want to know more, you can just visit their website and see for yourself.

The purpose of my article is not to advertise Freedom Debt Management, but to offer you a few tips that can help you manage your personal finances in a better way, so you can at least reduce your debt if not get rid of it for good.

1. Credit card debt is your biggest enemy

You’ll never earn your financial freedom if you keep on paying with your credit cards. Surely, it’s nice to have them for emergency situations, but buying a new pair of shoes isn’t an emergency, I hope we can agree on that. So, if you are already moving money from a credit card to another, trying hard to make ends meet, you’d better stop spending from the credit cards and let them slowly get balanced. Be careful with those credit cards, as they are not all alike. Some of them are more expensive than others, so make sure you repay the most expensive ones first, then get rid of the debt on the others. Then, after you’re done, either cut your cards in pieces or simply control your shopping impulses better and don’t use the cards unless you have a real emergency that needs immediate attention.

2. Assess how did you get into so much debt

Just sit down and think and put things on paper, so you can have a clear vision on where are you in the current stage of your life, in what your personal finances are concerned. Analyze your spending habits and see if you can track any patterns that may have dragged you into debt. If you came to read this article, most probably you are spending more money than you make, and that’s not started yesterday, but it’s a long-term, established habit already. You have to be conscious that you need to stop it and to reverse the trend as soon as possible, otherwise you’re never going to see your debt relief day.

3. Make your debt management plan

Don’t be afraid to put everything on paper. It’s better to have everything mapped on a chart, so you can set your goals and determine your priorities in repaying old debt. Make a list of all loans, mortgages, credit cards, payday loans or unsecured loans you may have, then write down the interest rate for each of them. Rank them accordingly. The most expensive one should be your top level priority for having it repaid. There are several ways to do this fast. For example, you can transfer the balance to cheaper credit cards. If this is possible for you, just do it as soon as you can. Another option could be a consolidation loan which would allow you to balance all your credit cards and get rid of that expensive debt for good. Make sure, though, to calculate if you can afford this consilidation loan, otherwise you’d make more harm than good on your path to financial freedom, debt management, personal finances controlling and smart budgeting.

4. Stick to your debt management plan

Plans are nothing if they are meant to remain only on paper. For a plan to give the desired results, you have to make it happen, you have to bring it into your life and follow it. This is a rule for all kind of plans, not only those which involve dealing with personal finance issues. If you’re a student, you may find it impossible to get rid of debt, but you should think that student debt is an incredibly heavy burden for a young person trying to start a life. Jobs for beginners aren’t that well-paid, so why not try to spend less during your college years and start your working life free of debt? I know this is easier said than done, but at least try not to get too deep in trouble.
Make more money

Now some of you are going to call me nuts. Who doesn’t want to make more money? Everybody does, but what are you willing to sacrifice for increasing your earnings? Some of your leisure time? Some of your sleep time? Watching your favorite TV shows? Do you see how many choices you have? However, if all you do after work is sitting in front of your TV set with a beer in your stomach, another one in your hand and countless others in the fridge, then you shouldn’t be surprised your income is always the same.
So, if you consider your actual job isn’t as rewarding as you’d like it to be, then go out there are find a better one. Or take another one. Or try to learn some alternative ways to make an additional income with only two-three hours of work per day, plus your weekends. Do something.

At least call a debt adviser like Freedom Debt Management and see how you can find a solution to your financial problems.


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