Being in debt doesn't have to be a way of life. If you're willing to put in the effort, you can reduce your debt, start saving and feel great about your financial future.
So, don't sit back and watch your debt grow. Instead, create a plan to commit to your financial freedom.
8 steps to begin reducing your dependency on credit
- Figure out how much you owe. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down how much you owe and the creditor. Consider whether your debts are "good debts" or "bad debts" so you'll know where to focus your efforts. Writing down all of your debts will help you visualize a plan for paying them down.
- Determine where you're paying the most interest. This way you know where you're losing the most money, and which credit card or personal loan you should aim to pay off first.
- Focus on one debt at a time. Beginning with where you're paying the most interest, pay down one debt at a time. Don't lose sight of your other while debt, though. Maintain your minimum payments on your other credit cards or loans.
- Make good use of any "extra" money. While it can be tempting to spend your tax return or year-end bonus on things you want, delegate at least half toward your debt.
- Create a realistic budget. Figure out how much money you have coming in each month, and how much you need to spend on necessities and discretionary items. You also have to factor in how much you want to save. Use these amounts to create a financial plan that works for you and your family.
- Prioritize your discretionary income. Once all of your bills are paid, how do you spend your money? Using the guidance of your budget, determine how much of your discretionary income you should put toward paying off your debt and how much you can still afford to spend on things you want, but don't need.
- Save for the future. Whether you're planning for retirement, paying for your children's college education or simply trying to avoid using credit cards for emergency purchases, a healthy savings account is one of the best ways to achieve financial freedom.
- Use the resources available to you as a military family. There are numerous programs and services available to military families to help promote better money management. Know and use those resources.
Money management resources for military families
- Each branch of military service offers a personal financial management program to help service members and their families successfully plan for their financial futures. You can meet with a personal financial counselor at no cost to you, or take classes offered on your installation. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to find the Personal Financial Management Program on your installation.
- If you don't live near an installation, don't worry. You can still receive free personal financial counseling through Military OneSource or take classes on financial topics through My Training Hub.
Getting your debt under control might seem overwhelming at first, but with the right planning and resources, you'll be on your way to financial freedom before you know it.