How Do I Eliminate Credit Card Debt As Quickly As Possible?
Many consumers come to us to find out how to pay off debts fast. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that can be used to eliminate credit card debt. The most important goal is to understand how to pay off debt permanently. A good first step is to speak with a Certified Financial Counselor in a free credit counseling session who will work with you to explore ways for you to repay your debts in a way that fits into your budget. You'll be offered educational tools to help you discover how to pay off credit card debt and keep the problem out of your life for good!
Is there a "right way" to reduce credit card debt?
One obvious answer is not to use your credit cards, and wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy? There's no single solution to reducing credit card debt. There are some steps you can follow:
- Only use credit cards as a last resort.
- If you must, use a credit card with the lowest interest rate.
- Focus on paying off your credit cards with higher APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) first.
- Make your payments on time to avoid any late or over-limit fees.
The easiest way to get out of debt is to work directly with an experienced InCharge counselor who can walk you through the process, answer questions, offer tips and tricks and find the best solution for your particular financial situation.
What Are Debt Consolidation And Debt Settlement?
Have you heard the terms "Debt Consolidation" and "Debt Settlement"? They're not the same and you should understand the difference if you're considering one of these as a possible solution.
"Debt consolidation" means that you take out a new "consolidation loan" big enough to pay off all of your debts. Now you have one big loan instead of many smaller loans or credit balances. This might be done through a bank or for profit debt consolidation company. The problem with this approach is that it doesn't address the core issues of most people's debt problems.
"Debt settlement" is a process of contacting your creditors to see if they will accept a reduced one-time payment to close your accounts. Companies that offer debt settlement will tell you to stop making your credit payments and go into default. The idea they propose is that, after you've defaulted, they'll go to your creditors and try to negotiate a settlement where you pay only a portion of what the full balance. Often there are big upfront fee and tax implications and other negative factors that you will need to consider. Nonprofit credit counseling organizations like InCharge Debt Solutions offer you alternative solutions with less negative consequences in a free counseling session that will help you find the best debt solution for your situation.
How Do I Calculate Debt-To-Income Ratio?
Finding the right solution to your debt problems can be frustrating, emotionally challenging, and mentally exhausting, especially when you're not armed with the right knowledge and skills. You may need to know how to calculate your Debt-To-Income (DTI) ratio, if you are looking to refinance your mortgage, as an example. The DTI is a finance measure that compares the amount of money you earn to the amount of money that you owe creditors and is a key measure banks use to determine mortgage affordability.
That's where a Certified Financial Counselor at InCharge can help. The counselor will take you through a step-by-step process of reviewing your situation, calculating debt-to-income and other financial measures and explain various solutions to consider.
If you want to calculate your debt-to-income ratio:
Divide your total monthly debt obligations (recurring debt such as mortgages, car loans, child support payments, credit card payments plus other housing expenses such as insurance, taxes or other housing related expenses) by your total gross monthly income.
Example: Monthly debt obligations are $1,000 and total monthly income is $2,500. Debt-to-income ratio would be $1,000 ÷ $2,500 or .40. Traditional lenders prefer a 36% DTI, with no more than 28% dedicated to servicing the mortgage. A DTI of 37-40% is often seen as "upper limit" although some lenders may permit ratios in that range or higher. However, you should carefully consider whether you want to take a loan with a DTI that high. That's where expert financial counseling can really help.
How can I manage my debt or find a way to settle my outstanding debts?
Learning how to manage debt can be overwhelming, especially if your household income has been reduced. Many debt-stressed consumers want to know how to settle credit card debt in what is generally referred to as debt settlement, but it is a difficult process to pursue on your own and it does have tax consequences and associated fees. Rather than simply seeking to "settle" your debt, take the time to understand the benefits of credit counseling by speaking with a certified credit counselor at InCharge Debt Solutions. The counselor will work with you to evaluate your financial situation and find a debt solution that is right for you.
Is there such a thing as a how-to-get-out-of-debt calculator?
Not really; the best "calculator" is really a counseling session with a seasoned financial counselor who carefully reviews your particular situation and offers appropriate solutions for getting out of debt over a 3 to 5-year period.
InCharge Debt Solutions has many interactive tools and educational materials on this website to help you evaluate your situation and determine if you need assistance. One tool is a "debt stress guide" that asks you a series of questions to determine how stressed you are about your debt. You'll also find a home budget calculator and other useful tools and information. If you are stressed, it may be time to have your debt situation analyzed by a certified credit counselor in a free credit counseling session. On this website, you will find these calculators: