Credit card debt stems from many different problems, whether it’s the loss of a job, illness of a loved one or just overspending. Making monthly payments may be last on your list in the face of greater troubles, but your financial mistakes today could affect the price you pay on housing, cars and virtually everything for the next seven years. Your immediate options to make good on bad credit debt include: budgeting, credit counseling, debt consolidation, debt negotiation, home equity loans and bankruptcy.
If you’re brave, then you can usually call and negotiate a repayment plan yourself to fix credit card arrears. Often, the first step toward regaining control is to assess how much money you make versus how much money you spend by listing your income sources, as well as your fixed expenses and variable expenses. Prioritize by unsecured credit card debt, mortgage payments and bills, then tack on food, health care, insurance and education. You may want to buy a computer software program like Quicken to keep track of expenses and bill payments. Next you can try contacting your creditors to work out a credit card debt payment plan.
To prevent credit card debt, you should first only take advantage of offers you actually need. There is no reason to ever have more than two or three credit cards. Having an unsecured credit card you never use is worse than just buying one thing per month and paying it off each month. To build your credit wisely, you may want to use a secured credit card, where you pay the bank your credit limit upfront and then only take out what you have put in, which is sort of like a debit card, only this one gets reported to all three credit bureaus to show your progress. Speaking of debit, use your credit card as you would a debit card, subtracting each purchase from your savings to be sure you’re not overspending. Ideally, you’ll want to pay on time and in full because only paying off the minimum balances can take years to pay off the full amount, given the interest. Be sure you don’t max out your credit cards as well. If you’re using over 30% of your available credit limit, then your credit scores will go lower.
There are several credit card myths that lead to credit card debt. Myth #1 is that “credit card companies wouldn’t send me offers in the mail if I couldn’t afford it.” In fact, they will offer risky clients more credit in hopes of increasing your limit and interest rates to suck more money out of you. Myth # 2 is “The more cards I have the more financial security I’ll have.” In reality, the temptation will be greater and the more available credit you have, the more likely you’ll be turned down for a mortgage or other loan. Myth # 3 is “It’s ok if I take advantage of the cash advance feature to keep me ahead.” Interest is super high for cash advances, so you should avoid using that function at all costs. Myth # 4 is that “As long as I make the minimum payment each month, I’ll be fine.” But did you know that you will end up paying $2,300 in interest if you pay the minimum monthly payments on a balance of $2,500 over five years? Bad credit debt is sometimes a matter of lying to ourselves. The sooner people realize this, the faster they can get back on track.
If given the opportunity most people would choose to live free and clear of all bills. That includes a home mortgage, a new car and credit cards. There would be enough money each month so that they could put back towards retirement or education. In a perfect world everyone would have exactly what they wanted and needed. But this is not a perfect world. Most people rely on credit cards, loans and mortgages in order to live. These allow them to live the way they want but it also puts them in bad credit.
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