|(ARA) – New Year’s resolutions for 2010: Lose weight, stop smoking, start exercising, get out of debt.|
|Year in and year out, getting out of debt consistently ranks among New Year’s top 10 resolutions. If your household is like many American households struggling with the recession, or worse, unemployment, getting out of debt will be close to the top of your list again for 2010. Unfortunately, like other tough habits to break, it can be difficult to get out of debt after developing spending habits that have heavily relied on borrowing from credit cards and home equity loans. |
While some households can slowly work their way out of debt, others that have been affected by a recent job loss may have no choice. If you’re among the more than 70 percent of American workers who are living paycheck to paycheck or must immediately cut expenses due to sudden unemployment, here are seven tips from FindLaw.com, one of the world’s leading online sources for legal information, on how you can get your new year off to a great start by reducing and eliminating your debt.
* Write down your goal. Give power and energy to your goal to get out of debt by writing it down on a piece of paper and taping it to your refrigerator. Be clear. Write down how much you’re in debt, your goal date for being debt-free and your determination to cut expenses and stop needless spending. In addition, write down what you dream of achieving – buying your own home, or paying for a child’s college education – to give you and your family added purpose as to why it’s so important to get out of debt now.
* Get help now. Some households need expert help to get out of debt and create new spending and saving behaviors. Seek the assistance of a debt management or credit counselor, available through many social service agencies. Try visiting the United Way at www.liveunited.org. If you are at risk of going into foreclosure, call (888) 995-HOPE for a toll-free foreclosure prevention hotline sponsored by NeighborWorks America and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. Beware of any debt management companies that demand payment up front for their services, which is a telltale sign of a scam.
* Call your creditors. Don’t wait for your creditors to call you. Call them to negotiate a new payment plan that you can realistically handle, including lower interest rates on your credit cards. It’s not uncommon for many Americans who are deeply in debt to be strapped with interest rates as high as 30 percent. Don’t be afraid to ask a creditor to settle a debt for a lower amount than what you currently owe.
* Cut back to the essentials. Cut your expenses to the essentials – food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Stop eating out. Cut out the afternoon candy bar and soda pop and start drinking more water. Stop buying lottery tickets. Start taking the bus or the train to work or, better yet, start biking or walking to and from work. Drop cable and your cell phone.
* Don’t skip these expenses. Depending upon the laws in your state, there may be some expenses that you must incur, such as auto and medical insurance, student loan payments, child support payments, license fees and, of course, paying local taxes as well as state and federal income taxes, according to FindLaw.com. Skip any of these expenses and you may wind up with much bigger legal headaches.
* Go automatic. Have your employer automatically deposit your paycheck into your bank account. But don’t stop there. Arrange for the most essential bill payments – mortgage, electricity, heat and water – to be automatically withdrawn from your checking account. If you have a mortgage, escrow property taxes to ensure that they’re automatically paid.
* Make more money. At some point, you might realize that you can’t cut any more expenses to make enough headway on your goal of getting out of debt. You might need to make more money by either taking on another job or selling some of your household items. If you take on a second job, look for an opportunity to work for a retailer that offers benefits to part-time workers such as discounts on merchandise and health care benefits. For more information about getting out of debt and avoiding bankruptcy, visitwww.findlaw.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent