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Debt Relief

Realize Debt Relief with Tips for a Debt Free Life

Total U.S. consumer debt (which includes credit-card debt and non-credit-card debt but not mortgage debt) reached $2.55 trillion at the end of 2007, up from $2.42 trillion at the end of 2006.

Revolving debt (credit cards) is wracked with hidden fees, and credit cards are compounding interest debts. Compounding interest is different from simple interest in the effect that accumulated interest is added to the principal balance, so that interest is also earned from the interest as well as the principal balance. Simple interest only adds interest to the original principal balance. An example of a simple interest loan is a mortgage. If you buy a house for $250,000, the interest only accumulates on the $250,000. Interest doesn't compound on top of old interest. Compounding interest and hidden fees are among the ways debt can get so overwhelming.

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Are you drowning in debt? If you have good payment history but just want to get off the revolving debt treadmill, here are some basic tips that will help you get on the road to financial recovery:

  1. Make being debt free a goal and make being debt free a priority. Then, you'll be more inclined to reach your goal. To start with, prioritize your money. Cash is king, and the only way you're going to see more of it is to stop spending it on what you don't need. Before you spend money on anything, stop and think about what you are trying to do. If you were to add up what you are spending unnecessarily in a month's time, you would be amazed.

  2. Don't spend more money than you have saved. If you haven't saved, start a savings account and start putting money in it. If you're having problems allocating an amount of money to put in your savings, try to get it directly deposited from your pay check. Most companies have direct deposit plans, and you typically can put part of your check in one account and another part in a different account. If you don't see the money, it's easier to do without it.

  3. Don't borrow more money than you have saved. The whole idea is to have enough for an emergency. If you suddenly lose your job or get sick for an extended period of time, you don't want to be stuck with a bunch of unpaid bills. And, borrowing more than you have saved just sets you up for future financial failure.

    The only exception to this are: student loans, car loans and mortgages. Most people don't have enough money to pay for an education, car or house outright. Lenders expect to see such things as car loans and mortgages. Besides, having a good history on these types of loans will help because lenders will be able to see that you know how to handle credit on the long term.

  4. If you use a credit card, pay of the entire balance at the end of the month. You may not currently have this luxury. If not, then work on getting your card balances paid down. Use some of the money you used to spend on luxuries to pay down your credit card balances. Stop paying minimums. The quicker you get your balances paid down, the quicker your FICO credit scores will rise.

Don't close your credit card accounts, but use your cards sparingly. If you can't pay your entire balances off at the end of the month, at least keep them at 30% or less of your credit limits.

These tips will not only end up saving you a lot of money, but they'll also help raise your FICO credit scores. The amount of debt you owe makes up a whopping 30% of your scores. Having a good payment history is great and helps keep long-term damage off your credit reports. But, if your credit card balances are high, all you could realistically expect are mediocre scores. And, if you've ever done any loan shopping, you'll see that you'd end up paying a lot more for your loan than you would if your scores were high.