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The First Steps to Managing Your Debt

Oct 12, 2007
If you've determined that you are in debt, you've probably already begun trying to work out how to get out of it. If you haven't, now is the time. One of the worst, and most obvious facts about debt is that it will not go away on its own. In fact, if it is ignored, it will only get worse. It will continue to increase at an alarmingly steady rate, making it even more difficult to get out of. The moment you realize you're in debt is the moment you should begin putting together a debt management plan.

Calculate Your Debt
Before you can outline a plan to pay off all you owe, you need to be aware of much debt you truly have. The best way to learn the details of who you owe and how much you owe them is to request a copy of your credit report and look it over carefully. New laws make it possible for you to obtain a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus.

With your credit report in hand, copy the name of each of your creditors and the total amount you owe them.

Because not all institutions report to the credit bureaus, there's a possibility that your credit report will not include all your creditors and lenders. Look over recent bills and statements to list any debts that weren't included in your credit report.

How Much Can You Afford To Pay?
The next step is to Calculate how much you can pay down your bills monthly. To do this, you need to calculate the amount of money you have left after all your bills have been paid. Subtracting the total expenses from the total income will determine the amount you have left over to pay on your debt.

Making the Plan
Now you have the key ingredients that are needed to build a debt management plan, which are the total amount you owe and total amount available to pay towards what you owe. You can now begin to figure out the best way to pay off your bills.

The first thing you must do is get caught up on any accounts you may have fallen behind on. It is possible that your creditors will work with you to get the total amount owed lowered. But you must contact them to discuss this possibility.

Next, work on paying off the highest-interest debts first. Use all the funds you have allocated for paying off debts to lower the debts with the highest interest first.

After you've paid off your highest interest bills, work on paying off the lower interest loans. Once you've eliminated your high-interest debt, you can then tackle the low interest debt.

In your plan, be sure to include details regarding how much will be paid to each creditor and lender each month. This way you'll know when each of your bills should be paid off.
About the Author
Peter Kenny is a writer for Finance 123. Please visit us at Reward Credit Cards and Bad Credit Credit Cards
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