Resolved to dig out of debt? It can be done but there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach the topic, which is true in a lot of areas of our life. For example, there’s a right way to hail a cab in New York City. I can jump out of an airplane, but can’t successfully stop a cab without lying down in front of it—and even then it probably wouldn’t STOP! But my biz colleague, Tara, can hail a cab by just walking out of a building! It’s truly miraculous, I’ve watched her hail cabs a half a dozen times and she just takes a few steps, raises her hand, gets the magic gleam in her eye and voila! A yellow cab appears!
Conquering consumer debt can be as daunting as trying to get one of those yellow things to stop but not if you know what you’re doing. So let’s look at the right way to get outta debt!
1. Assess Your Debt— The first step in conquering debt is finding out how long the journey will be, and where to start. Start by finding how far you have to go; order your credit report for free at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/. Add up all your consumer debt numbers (for both spouses if married). Most consumers don’t know how much debt they have, which is why this step is so important.
2. APR Reduction— This is where the miracle of compounding interest happens and it can either work for you or against you. If you go to my tools section at http://www.elliekay.com/, you can find the minimum payment calculator and run your own numbers. It involves knowing how to talk to the person at the credit card company and being polite, prepared, and persistent! The average family with 10K in debt, paying the 2% minimum at an 18%APR can save $6K a year (in interest) by lowering their APR to 9% and paying a little more on the minimum (3%). It’s a little that saves a lot!
3. All IN— I’m not a poker player, which is where the term comes from, but being “all in” is when you put all your chips on the table and decide to play your hand hoping it will work out. With consumer debt, it’s important to commit to getting out of debt and that ALL the money you save is going to go toward consumer debt. ALL the unexpected money that comes in (tax refunds, bonus checks, birthday dollars) will go toward paying the principle on those credit cards. To get started, take TEN MINUTES, and shop around for auto insurance. I’m amazed that 1/3 of consumers never compare auto insurance prices. Go to http://www.progressive.com/ to see quotes from multiple carriers and pick the one that is right for you. People I’ve worked with save hundreds by comparing prices. Then take those dollars saved and immediately write a check toward your debt.
I’ve given this consumer debt reduction advice to thousands of families through my writing, media appearances and at live events and there are thousands of those readers/viewers/audience participants who are now out of consumer debt.
I may not be able to hail a cab in NYC the right way, but I do know the right way of helping others find financial freedom. I have seen it happen over and over, and it can happen to you!
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)