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7 Easy Steps To Controlling Your Debts

Aug 17, 2007
If you feel overwhelmed by your debts, then congratulations for taking the first step towards tackling it by reading this.

Even though it may seem impossible, controlling your debts is achievable and breaking it down into simple steps is one very effective way to approach it.

One way to take control is by using loan consolidation to simplify your finances and cut your costs.

Here are 7 easy, practical and achievable steps that you can take now to regain control of your debts - you'll be glad that you did!

Step 1: Find your loan documents

Confront your fears and get hold of all the documents and statements relating to your loans.

You remember - the ones you hid under the couch or in the kitchen drawer with the spare keys and the kitchen gadgets you never use!

Step 2: Collect the key data

Make a list of all these loans. You may want to do this on a spreadsheet if you have access to one so that you can do some calculations later.

Then write next to each of them some key information:

How long is left on each one

How much your monthly loan payments are (or should be if you are not actually paying them at present)

The annual interest rate - this indicates how much you are paying for the privilege of borrowing the money.

Step 3: Anlayze the data

Summarise from your list a number of key facts:
How much you owe in total (you may want to be sitting down when you do this!)

How much you are (or should be) paying each month to clear the debts in accordance with the terms of the loan.

Work out when you will clear these debts completely - when will you be debt free?

How does that date make you feel?

Take a moment to look again at the list - can you remember what each loan paid for?

Was it for something that you are still getting benefit from (eg a car or your education) or for something that is already in the past (like a vacation). Think about how this might affect how you use loans in the future!

If you've got this far then well done! You have already taken some big steps forward towards controlling your debts!

Step 4: Are there any problems with the current loans?

Identify any early settlement costs from the list of loans - ie if you pay them off now will there be a penalty to pay to the lender?

Are there any other problems - are some lenders demanding immediate repayment?

How important are the loans to you - does your house or car depend on keeping up payments on the loan?

Step 5: Decide what action you need to take.

Now make a decision about what you want:

Do you want to pay off the debts as fast as possible and will you make that a priority?

Or do you have some other target date by which you want to pay them all off?

Or do you have a certain level of monthly payment that you have in mind so that you can free up cash each month for other things?

Or have you worked out a set amount each month that you can allocate to paying off your debts?

Answering these questions about your goals and intentions will help you to determine the sort of consolidation loan and loan provider that you need for the future.

Also you should consider any non-financial conditions of the loan - such as flexibility - might you want to settle the debt early and would there be a penalty?

Step 6: Do Some Research.

Use a loan calculator to determine the key requirements of the loan that you need and get an idea of how much it might cost.

There are plenty of these calculators available for free on the Internet and they are very easy to use and help you to be realistic.

You will need to know the amount of money you plan to borrow (see step 3) and the length of time over which you want to borrow it (see step 5).

You will also need to make some assumptions about the interest rate and for that you need to consider whether it will be a secured or unsecured loan, as these typically have different interest rates.

Some quick research on the internet can give you some rough ideas of what the current rates are - you really want to find one cheaper than your current most expensive loans (see step 2).

If you are tempted by the lower interest rates of secured loans - be careful - because securing a debt on your house may be putting your home at risk.

The loan calculator should tell you the approximate monthly repayment amounts.

Keep playing with the figures until you can decide on the key requirements of the loan that match you goals in step 5. You may of course need to revise your goals to make the loan affordable.

Now you can research the actual consolidation loans on offer on the internet that match your key requirements. Make a list of 3 or 4 companies.

Step 7: Take Action!

When you are fully informed about what the market has to offer, take advice from a financial advisor or contact the relevant consolidation loan companies directly to talk to them about your key requirements.

As with any purchase, being clear and focused about what you want and being well informed will get you a much better result with a product that meets your needs.

Finally you can congratulate yourself on a job well done - if you've followed those 7 steps you have gone from not knowing where you are to being fully in control of your debts with a product that meets your financial goals!

Just don't go celebrating with a spending spree otherwise you might undo all your hard work!

Copyright (c) 2006 SimplifyLoans.com
About the Author
Malcolm Harper is an accountant and the editor at SimplifyLoans.com. He believes that one of the best investments a consumer can make is to educate themselves about financial products. Find out more about Loan Consolidation at http://www.simplifyloans.com
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