“I was thinking one day and I realized that if I just had somebody behind me all the way to motivate me I could make a big difference. Nobody came along like that so I just became that person for myself.”
It has been a sad week for me. Over the holidays, it looks like a friend of mine took his own life. We had a memorial service for him this week.
Although it was a surprise for me — he was that last person I would think of that would do that — he did have some problems and I know he was in contact with people about them.
But a lot of a lot of people don’t connect with anyone when they are thinking about suicide. In case someone out there needs it, please talk to someone about it. Your spouse, your pastor, your friend, or you can check out http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call them at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Please get help. You are irreplaceable.
Well, it’s the week after the new year, so I thought I would just touch base with a simple note of “thanks”. As we move into the new year, and especially in light of my friend’s passing, I want you to know that I deeply appreciate you.
It is now after the holidays and, of course, the bills come in, and sometimes regular families are staring at some debt. That’s why I’ve put together some strategies for beating back that debt.
“Straight Talk” Personal Strategy
Simple Strategy To Break Debt Off Your Back
First, let’s take a look at some numbers–and they may be worse now: by the end of 2008, the average credit card balance per household in America was $8,329 and the average balance per card was up 11 percent over the previous year to $1,157.
You may be in a better situation…it may also be worse. So, to help regular families deal with this, here’s some basic strategy for you:
1. If you ever hope to pay off your credit card debt, pay more than the minimum payment each month.
If you only pay the minimum payment each month, your bill could continue to INCREASE, even if you completely stop using your card. This is called “negative amortization”–where you think you are paying on your debt but the additional fees and finance charges are more than the minimum payment. The bottom line is: Pay more than your minimum or you will eventually be in debt over your head.
2. Implement a regular *system* for credit card debt reduction.
With online banking and automatic payment options, there are GREAT tools for ensuring you don’t mess up because of administrative chaos. If you feel you can’t manage all your bills by pen and paper, there are several good software programs available for keeping track of your financial records. I just started using http://www.spendonpurpose.com/ (no longer active, unfortunately) myself and find it helpful so far.
3. You can negotiate with your credit card company.
No, you do not need to be an attorney or other professional to negotiate with your credit card company (you will need patience and persistency though). The rising amount of consumer debt in this country has made creditors realize that they need to be more understanding of their customers — if they hope to get any money back. If you file bankruptcy they are only going to get pennies on the dollar, so they are willing to make deals.
4. Write letters to each of your creditors acknowledging your debt and the situation, and tell each one when you can begin repayment.
Open communication always helps. Usually credit card companies get ignored and end up sending delinquent files to a collections agency. So they’ll actually appreciate your openness in contacting them and may be more understanding of your situation. Proactively dealing with your debt problem rather than hiding will not only help your financial problem but make you feel better about yourself.
5. Keep track of what you are able to pay each creditor every month.
If you are not able to pay the full amount of your credit each month, you still should still pay something to stay on top of it. You should work off a written budget so you know exactly where you stand. Some experts suggest that you divide your monthly debt budget by the percentage each bill makes of the total and pay that amount.
Here’s an example: If you owe a total of $1,000, and one credit card is $800 and the other is $200, and you only have $100 available to pay for that month… You should pay $80 on the $800 balance, and $20 on the $200 balance. This way you are reducing each debt by the same percentage.
6. Don’t fall prey to intimidation tactics
No matter how forthcoming and honest you are, some creditors have been taught to be mean and downright nasty. Hang in there and don’t let this tactic intimidate you.
I hope this helps!
To your family’s wealth, health, and happiness!