Debt is very easy to get into, but often tricky to get out of. It takes so much more than just paying off your credit cards to live a debt-free existence. The decision to free yourself from debt is a life changer, but only if you’re willing to put the work in.
Unfortunately, since we all make mistakes, even when you are committed to making smarter money decisions, you are still likely to go wrong now and then. With that in mind, here are six blunders to avoid when getting out of debt.
Mistake #1: Starting Without a Plan
The decision to improve your financial health is certainly exciting. However, that doesn’t mean that you should get started right away. Before diving in headfirst, you must make a list of every one of your debts, the interest rates, and the minimum payments. You can then call up each of the loan companies to try to negotiate a lower interest. The next step is prioritizing these bills.
Mistake #2: Keeping Those Spending Habits
Humans are creatures of habit, with spending money being no exception. We eat at the same restaurants, shop at the same stores, and buy the same cup of coffee on the way to work each morning. Whether you want to admit it or not, it’s probably these habits that first got you into debt. You must make a change, starting with cutting any unnecessary costs from your budget.
Mistake #3: Taking on More Debt
When you’re trying to get out of debt, the very worst thing that you can do is take on more. The only exception to this rule is when consolidating debts. If you were to find a loan that covered all of your smaller debts but had a lower interest rate, then you could save money.
Mistake #4: Closing Paid off Accounts
After paying off a debt, you will probably want to close the account in question. After all, that would prevent you from borrowing any more money from that source in the future. Instead of doing so, however, you should simply resist using it. The credit scoring system relies on how much credit you have available. Leaving these accounts open, therefore, can improve your score.
Mistake #5: Forgetting About Emergency Savings
Before you begin paying off your debts, you must make sure that you have an emergency fund. The reason for this is that, if an emergency were to happen, you would need this money to cover any unexpected expenses. Most people take more than three months to find new employment after losing their jobs. This means that your fund should cover at least three months of costs.
Mistake #6: Doing It All Alone
Most people struggle with debt because they take it all on by themselves. They avoid speaking about their struggles with friends or relatives, as they find it an embarrassing subject. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to speak to your loved ones, there are other resources available. You could talk with a credit counseling agency, for example, for free financial help.
Getting out of debt can be hard, but you’ll find it much easier if you avoid these mistakes.