Today I want to talk about one of the free resources that we have available on our blog at MoneyEvolution.com This particular one that I’m going to be talking about today is the Money Evolution Guide to Understanding and Managing Your Debt.
So why am I talking about managing you debt? Well I think obviously this is something that almost everybody deals with at some point in their life. Almost everybody has some debt outstanding, whether it’s your mortgage or a car loan or a student debt, credit card debt. And I think for many people, debt can be kind of overwhelming at times, and can give you a fair amount of anxiety. So I’ve put together a bunch of different strategies here that you can use to kind of manage and be a little bit more effective or efficient with some of your debt. I also have a strategy that I put together to help you possibly pay some of that debt off a little bit faster.
The first step in helping you pay your debts off a little bit faster is to make a list of all the people that you owe money to. Whether it’s your house loan, your car loan, student debt, credit cards, list out every single company or person that you owe money to. List out the outstanding balance that you have on each one of those loans, the interest rate that you’re paying, and the minimum monthly payment that you have as well for each one of those loans.
Step two is after you’ve put that list together and compiled that, is to call up every one of your lenders. And especially if you might be behind on any of your payments or if you’re having a hard time making any of those payments, really calling the lender and explaining to them your situation is really one of the best strategies. Not to ignore it, don’t just put it off and pretend it doesn’t exist but call those lenders up, explain to them your situation. If you can’t make the minimum monthly payments that you have, explain to ’em what you can pay. Oftentimes they’ll be accommodating for that. They’d rather have somebody making some payment than somebody that’s not making any payments at all.
If you have any credit card debt, let’s say at a high interest rate. Ask them if there’s any opportunity to lower that interest rate, and what you need to do. Especially if you’ve been making your payments on time and you’ve been paying pretty consistently, a lot of times credit card companies will lower that interest rate or help you out a little bit in that regard.
The third step in the process is to renegotiate or refinance any of that debt. And what I mean by renegotiate is to look at, is there any debt that you have that can be maybe transferred over or shifted to maybe a lower interest rate. Especially true of credit cards where you might be paying sometimes 14%, 15%, 20% interest on a credit card, there may be an opportunity to transfer that balance to a lower interest rate card. Sometimes you may get these things, I know I get ’em all the time, 0% balance transfer offers, where you can transfer a balance from one loan to another and they’ll give you 0% interest for a set period of time. Maybe that’s 12 months or 18 months. But that can really help you pay some of that debt off a little bit faster because you’re not having to pay that extra high interest. Just keep in mind though, if you do take advantage of one of those 0% or low interest rate offers, sometimes there is a fee for doing that. And that’s OK, you just want to make sure that whatever fee you’re paying for that low interest rate offer, that you’re going to get at least that much money back on being able to pay that debt off a little bit faster.
The final step of doing this is after you’ve maybe renegotiated some of your loans, after you’ve shifted over to one of these low interest rate offers, is to put together a listing, and use something that I created called the cash flow efficiency score. And what you’re basically going to do is you’re going to take each one of your loans, every loan that you have and you’re going to divide your monthly payment by your outstanding balance and that’s going to give you kind of a ratio. And what you’re going to do is you’re going to decide how much money you can afford to put towards all of your debt together and hopefully that’s more than what those minimum payments are for each one of your loans. But you’re going to take all of the extra principal that you’re able to pay and you’re going to apply that to the loan that has the highest cash flow efficiency score. And what that’s going to do is a couple of things.
Number one, it’s going to help you build up a little bit of momentum. So as opposed to paying a little bit extra on all of your debt, you’re putting all of those extra payments towards the one debt that’s having the biggest impact on your cash flow. That cash flow efficiency score also kind of inadvertently takes into account the interest rate that you’re paying as well. So it helps you pay down those loans that have the highest interest rate.
Once that first loan is paid off, once you pay off that first loan that has the highest cash flow efficiency score, now you’re going to take all of the money that you were paying that you were paying every month towards that loan and then you’re going to apply all of that to the loan that you have with the second highest cash flow efficiency score plus whatever minimum payment that you were making on that. And again that kind of builds up a little bit of a snowball effect and you’re going to keep doing that, essentially until all of your debt is paid off. And I think again, that can be very liberating.
So just keeping track of what you owe and who you owe money to and then ticking off those loans one at a time really helps to build a lot of momentum. And even though you may still have that debt, because you’re making progress towards paying that debt off, it’s going to really hopefully make you feel quite a bit better for that.
What I Do
I help individuals make the transition from working to retirement.
As you approach retirement you will be making some of the most important financial decisions of your life. Most of these decisions don’t get a do-over, once you’ve made them your stuck.
My goal is to help you get the most out of your retirement resources. I do this by coordinating and optimizing what I call the 7 Core Elements of Retirement Planning.
It all starts with a plan!
We use advanced financial planning software to help you understand your retirement cash flow so you know where the gaps are.
Understanding your retirement gap is the foundation to getting the most out out of your retirement resources and avoiding costly mistakes.