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How to Face Debt

April 20, 2014
Plain English Version

Facing debtDebt piles up when people are in denial. The real world is not always friendly. Experts have ideas about how to deal with debt.

  • Open and Read Bills and Statements.

Some part of you knows that you have to look at them. A period of deep breathing and meditation may help. Or sitting with someone you trust while you open the envelopes.

You will feel more in charge of your life when you start dealing with your bills.

  • Track Your Spending.

People usually find they are spending more than they think they are. For example, one couple saw they were spending nearly $1,500 a year on morning coffee.

People may find they are spending more than they earn.

Figure out your after-tax income and “track” all of your spending. Or go to all-cash spending for a couple of months. This way you will know more about your true needs and real spending.

  • Project the Future.

Think about how much things cost now. Then think about how much they cost 25 years ago. And finally, think about how much they might cost 25 years from now. That will help you think about what steps you might take to prepare for the future.

Do not expect the government to solve all your problems.

  • Set Goals.

Make a list of your five top financial priorities. One priority might include paying off debts or saving more money and assets for retirement.

Make a definite plan. For example, put 10 percent of your paycheck into a 401(k) plan. This might mean you have to defer some large purchases, such as a car, for a while.

This may be a good time to talk with lenders such as banks and other financial institutions. Try to negotiate better terms for payments.

  •  Seek Help.

Setbacks can be very stressful. Some community-based agencies offer free or low-cost budgeting and mental health counseling. This will help you deal with setbacks. Don’t become discouraged. Restart the whole process if necessary.

Source: The Wall Street Journal                                                                                April 13, 2014

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