Whether you’re drowning in debt or you’ve managed to get your debt under control, knowing how to properly manage the money that you owe is crucial for paying it off. Even if your debt is small, knowing what you owe and when it is due can protect you from getting further into debt.
If you’re struggling to manage your debt, here are a few steps you can take.
Know What You Owe and Who You Owe It To
To avoid falling behind on your debts, you need to outline who you owe money to, how much money you owe, and when that money is due. Depending on the number of loans or debts you have out, you may want to create a spreadsheet outlining all this information.
Check this list with the debts reported on your credit report. Be sure that they are all accounted for, that there aren’t debts that haven’t been accounted for, and the amounts that you owe are correct.
Keep this spreadsheet updated each month as you make payments on your debts.
Create a Calendar for Monthly Due Dates
Many people choose to spread out their bill due dates to help them budget during the month. If you’re unable to have all your bills due on the same day, create a calendar of when all your bills are due so that you never forget.
To ensure you don’t forget and that your payment is made on time, you may even want to write the due date down a day or two earlier. This gives you the opportunity to schedule your payment so that it is received on time, avoiding any late fees or extra payments.
You may even want to use an app or digital calendar that can send you notifications that your due date is approaching.
Build a Monthly Budget
Budgets are a great way to account for everything you need to pay during the month. If you’re saving for a purchase or tight on cash, a budget can prevent you from overspending in areas you don’t need to overspend in.
To ensure you’re on top of your bills and that you have the money to meet payments in full, factor them into your budget. If you’re unsure what your bill may be each month, use the upper limit as your budget restriction. This will give you a bit of wiggle room for savings or spending money if your bills end up being less.
Apps and worksheets are a great way to start building a budget that works for you.
Prioritize Your Debts
While you should pay off all of your debts sometime, you may want to focus on paying certain debts more heavily than others. If you have debts in collections, those should be paid off before you focus on paying off any other debts.
Other approaches to paying off debts include paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first. This can save you money in the long run. Another approach to paying off your debt is to pay off the smallest debt first. This can encourage you to keep going because you will see results more quickly.
Use your list of debts to prioritize the debts you would like to pay off first.
Pay the Minimum Payment
While you should always try to pay a bit more than the minimum payments, paying at least the minimum payment can help you stay on top of your debts. The minimum amount will not influence your credit score negatively and will prevent you from growing your debt through late fees.
Keep in mind that the minimum payment does not prevent interest from accruing. When you are able to pay more than the minimum payment, you can reduce the amount of money you will spend on the debt overall.
Check what the minimum payment is for your debt bill early on. This will give you time to prepare for the payment so you can pay it on time.
No matter how much money you owe in debt, you want to be able to pay it off appropriately. This tips can help do that.