How to Manage Personal Debt Levels
- Know who and how much you owe
Make a list of your debts: include the creditor, total amount of the debt, monthly payment, and due date. You can use your credit report from your lenders to confirm the debts on your list. Refer to your debt list periodically, especially as you pay back and update the list every month as the amount of your debt changes.
- Pay your debts on time each month
Late payments generally increase the amount of your outstanding debt make it harder to pay off your debt since you will pay penalty for late repayment. Miss two payments in a row and your interest rate and finance charges will increase! If you use a calendaring system on your computer or smartphone, enter your payments there and set an alert to remind you several days before your payment is due. If you miss a payment, don’t wait until the next due date to send your payment, by then it could be reported to a credit bureau. Instead, send your payment as soon as you remember to.
- Recognize the signs that you need help
If you find it hard to pay your debt and other bills each month, you may need to get help from a bank or your employer. This often arises when you think you have a spending problem. Getting your employer or bank to undertake a standing order to have your debts paid before your paycheck lands in your hands.
- Make at least the minimum payment
If you can’t afford to pay anything more, at least make the minimum payment. Of course, the minimum payment doesn’t help you make real progress in paying off your debt but it keeps your debt from growing. When you miss payments, it gets harder to catch up and eventually your account could go into the default state.
- Decide which debts to pay off first
Credit card debt is the best candidate for priority repayment. Of all your credit cards, the one with the highest interest rate usually gets priority on repayment because it's costing the most money. Use your debt list to prioritize and rank your debts in the order you want to pay them off. You can also choose to pay off the debt with the lowest balance first.