ATM :: 11 easy steps to get out and stay out of debt

K. Ramalingam | Updated On: August 05, 2013 11:52 (IST) | NDTV Profit


In spite of steady, regular income there are so many individuals who live paycheck to paycheck, carry their credit card outstanding, and fail to save anything for life after retirement. If you are one of them, now is the right time to take action to come out and stay out of debt.

It is not only possible but also very much achievable.

Discussed below are a few easy steps you can use to get out of debt:

1. Make a list of all your debts

You need to take a good look at all your loans. It could be credit card dues, personal loan, car loan, housing loan, education loan, loan from FD, loan from insurance policies, loan from your employer, hand loan, and so on. For each and every loan you need to note down basic details like how much you owe, the current interest rate, EMI amount, number of months (tenure) etc.

2. Negotiate for lower interest rates

If you could negotiate the interest rate and bring it down, you can come out of debt faster. Most of the credit card companies come forward for negotiation if you show interest in repaying. They need not run after you to collect the debt. They will be happy to negotiate as this will, in fact, reduce their expenses. Balance transfer offers from credit cards are also a good way to reduce your interest rate.

3. Refinancing and consolidation

Replacing a loan with another is known as refinancing. Getting a refinance should reduce your interest rate and bring down the time you are in debt. But people more often go for a refinancing option that provides them with lower EMIs, increasing, however, the time they stay in debt.

4. Categorise your debt

A house loan can increase your net worth over a period of time. This kind of loan gives you tax benefit also. For a businessman, car loan provides some tax benefit. Each one of your debts needs to be categorised based on such factors. This will help us in comparing different loans.

5. Prioritise your debts

After sorting out various loans, you can comfortably prioritise them. This will be based on the interest rates and tax benefits. At times paying off a small loan first can give you a lot of motivation to get out of your overall debt.

6. Creating and executing a debt payoff plan

You need to create a debt payoff plan with different scenarios, so that you can find out how some more savings or a different repayment order will help you to get out of debt faster. When creating a plan, you need to choose one which is comfortable to your attitude. Otherwise, you may not be able to execute it properly.

7. Keep yourself from taking fresh loans

You need to make a vow that you will not be adding any fresh loans until you come out of all your debts completely. Think, for a moment, how you will feel when you become debt free as this will give you a lot of positive energy to come out and stay out of debt.

8. Postpone buying major assets

Buying property or any other major asset needs to be postponed until you get rid of your debt. With your new ownership comes the new – probably large – and unpredictable expense. This can make you deviate from your debt payoff plan and, at times, make you bear unpleasant and uncontrollable consequences.

9. Stop using your credit card

When it comes to using credit cards, there are broadly two kinds of people: 1) who use credit cards responsibly; and 2) who don’t. Poeple of the responsible kind repay their credit card dues in full on receiving the bill. The other kind, however, would pay the minimum due amount and carry forward the remaining sum.

If you belong to the second group, you need to stop using credit cards – at least – temporarily. Take out and put your credit cards in a locker. You can start using them again once your financial situation and buying habits improve.

10. Change your spending habits

Being in debt obviously means that you have been living beyond your means. The solution is very simple: spend less and you will get out of all your debt soon. You need to change your spending habits. If you buy things you don’t need, you soon end up selling things that you do need. Don’t save what is left after spending; instead, spend what is left after saving.

11. Involve your family members

You need to inform all your family members and dependents about your debt status. This way, you will be able to take decisions with much more clarity. Moreover, if your family members know about your debt, they will also change their spending habits and support you in getting out of debt faster.

Consider the example of a postage stamp. The usefulness of a postage stamp lies in the fact that it sticks to one thing till it reaches its destination. Similarly, you need to stick to your debt pay off plan till you get out of it.

K. Ramalingam is a certified financial planner and the founder and director of Holistic Investment Planners. The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information given here. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing on the blog do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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