Whether you're in debt, or just got out of debt, these simple tips will help you avoid ending up in this situation again.
Check out these 5 tips to help you stay debt free, forever.
Are you willing to stop losing money to credit card companies?
1. Don't co-sign for a loan, ever. If the borrower — whether your friend, family member or significant other — misses payments, your credit score will be negatively affected. The lender may even decide to try and pursue payment from you and it will likely destroy your relationship with the borrower. If the bank is requiring a cosigner it's because the bank does not trust the person to make their payments.
Bottom line: Don't risk your credit to help out a friend.
2. Pay your credit card balances more than once a month. It can be all too easy to rack up credit card debt, given how simple it is to swipe your plastic and forget about those purchases until the very end of the month. To avoid running up a balance you can’t pay off in full, consider paying your balance down every week or even every day from a linked debit card account.
This helps you reap the benefits of a credit card — rewards points, better fraud protection, etc. — without having to carry debt and pay extra in interest.
3. Stick with cash. You can't overspend cash - once that $30 in your wallet is gone, it's gone. Not only does a 'cash diet' prevent you from going over budget, but it also works for purely physiological reasons.
The physical action of handing over cash to someone else is a lot more difficult than swiping a card. Try handing over $100 cash for a pair of shoes. Credit cards make it too easy to spend money, stick with cash to save in the long run.
4. If you have student loans — investigate repayment options. Right now, the Department of Education is offering 'Income Based Repayment' options. This means your monthly payment is adjusted based on your income and expenses each year (it can be as low as $0 per month). For some individuals, you may even qualify for forgiveness of your debt after a set repayment term. If your student loans payments are unmanagable, give the Department of Education a call to discuss your options: 1-800-557-7394.
5. Start with small debts to help you conquer the big ones. If you have a mountain of debt, studies show paying off the little debts can give you the confidence to tackle the larger ones. Start by paying off a modest balance on a department store card before getting to the card with the bigger balance. Of course, we generally recommend chipping away at the card with the highest interest rate, but sometimes psyching yourself up is worth it.