Debt can feel overwhelming. If you are deeply in the red, each month likely provokes anxiety as the bills pile up.
But as scary as debt might feel, a closer look may reveal your situation to be more manageable than you think.
Understanding this fact can help lower your financial stress. That, in turn, can assist you in thinking more clearly and calmly about eliminating your debt as soon as possible.
Look for these signs that you might be in a better situation to manage your debt than you think.
Your interest rates are low
Many of us have debt — from a home mortgage or a car loan to simple credit card debt.
While it’s better to be debt-free, debts with low interest rates are not nearly as painful as debts with sky-high rates.
So take a look at your interest rates. If your mortgage rate is 3%, count your blessings at a time when many new home loans come with rates of 6% or more.
You are willing to create a budget
A well-crafted budget can help you save money that you can then use to pay off your outstanding debt.
Don’t have a budget? It’s a good idea to create one, especially if you’re struggling financially. Debt that feels overwhelming might not seem so bad once you’ve used a budget to free up more money to pay bills.
You plan to look for wiggle room in your budget
If you already have a budget, revisit it on a regular basis to see if there are changes you can make to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible.
Look carefully at your spending patterns: Can you eliminate costs to give yourself even more wiggle room in your budget?
Keep looking for more ways to save so you can put that extra cash toward paying down your debt or creating an emergency fund.
You get an annual bonus at work
If you get an annual bonus or other bonuses throughout the year, recognize that this money can be a powerful tool for getting rid of debt.
Try to avoid the temptation to spend that money. Put it to good use, whether that is paying down debt or putting it into savings so you don’t fall more deeply into debt.
Your car loan is paid off
Paying off a car loan can free up a tremendous amount of cash that you can use to eliminate debt. And fortunately, paying off a car loan is a realistic goal for many people.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for more ways to save money when it comes to your car, you may also want to compare car insurance rates. See if you can get a better deal on car insurance with another company.
You have a side hustle
A side hustle can be a great way to earn extra money in your free time. Take a specific skill and turn it into a money-making opportunity.
If you have a side hustle, that's a major tool. Use the money you earn from a side hustle to pay off debt as quickly as you can.
You can afford to pay more than the minimum
If you have a little extra money, use it to pay down loans faster. This can reduce the amount you pay in interest.
Remember, once that debt is paid off, you will suddenly have more cash each month than you had before. Consider using that “found” money to apply to other debts, or move it into a savings account.
You are eligible for a balance transfer
If you have debt on a credit card with a high interest rate, see if you are eligible to transfer it to a card with a much lower rate. For example, some cards offer a promotional 0% rate for a period after you open the account.
That gives you the option to pay off the debt over time without it earning extra interest.
But remember to check the fine print on a 0% card. Once the promotional rate ends, it’s possible you could once again find yourself saddled with a high interest rate.
You can negotiate a lower interest rate
Call your lender and see if it will work with you to lower your interest rate. Your odds of success with this request might increase if you have regularly made monthly payments on time.
You have stuff to sell
If you have clutter you would like to get rid of, try to sell it so you can pad your bottom line.
Take the profits you earn and apply them to your debt. Make your goal to become clutter-free and debt-free at the same time.
You may not be as deep in debt as you think. Managing your debt in the right way can help you achieve a debt-free life sooner than you imagine.
Start small with a budget and a plan with attainable goals for paying off debt. Over time, you can gradually clear your debt and move to firmer financial footing.