Financial Literacy for Everyone
Follow Us
FacebookTwitterYouTube

Summit 2014

SAVE THE DATE
For the 2015 Financial Literacy Summit on April 15 in Chicago.
Register now

Money game on the go

Play and learn
Who says learning about money can't be fun? Try one of our money skills games today.
Play now

social media

Connect with us!
For daily money tips, quips and pics, follow us on social media.
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Debt

Budgeting for Holidays

If you’re in debt, you’re not alone. Consumer debt in America is extraordinarily high. Sometimes it’s hard to know – or admit – if you have a problem with debt. It can be overwhelming to realize that youíve gotten in over your head, and to worry that you wonít be able to pay back what you owe. The key to getting out of your situation is to act now. Donít procrastinate. Taking charge of your finances and creating a plan for tackling your debt will cut down your anxiety and get you on the path toward a better financial future.

First, ask yourself whether debt has become a problem for you. Here are some circumstances that might indicate it has:

  • Next month’s bills arrive before last month’s have been paid
  • Your bills often include late fees
  • You avoid opening bills when they arrive in the mail
  • You procrastinate balancing checkbooks
  • You bounce checks

Write it Out
Do you actually know how much debt you have? Many people don’t. Start by making a list of everything you owe, whether it’s a mortgage, a credit card balance, student loans or even money you borrowed from family or friends. Write down:

  • The lender’s name
  • The amount you owe
  • The term of the loan
  • The interest rate and fees

Then total them up. Looking at the numbers can be worrisome, but this is a positive – and necessary – first step to tackling your debt.

The power of 50
Paying the minimum amount due on your credit cards is one of the fastest ways to fall further into debt, and it can keep you in debt for years or decades.

If you have a credit card with a $3,000 balance at an annual interest rate of 18%, and you pay only the 2% minimum monthly payment of $60 per month, it would take you 8 years to pay off your bill. Not only that, you will have paid $5,780 by the end of the 8 years – almost double the $3,000 you thought you were spending when you made the charges.

Paying just $50 above the minimum amount due each month will make an incredible difference in how quickly you can pay down what you owe. If you pay an additional $50 per month toward your $3,000 balance for a total payment of $110 a month, you could pay off the debt in 3 years instead of 8, and save yourself over $1,800 in interest. Imagine what you could do with $100 more per month.

Be realistic
Now that you have analyzed your debt situation, itís time to look at your monthly budget and set realistic goals. That trip you had planned for next summer, or the new car you were hoping to buy may not be in the cards right now given your new outlook on reducing your debt. Use this free Rework Your Budget calculator to help you get your budget back on track.

Don’t get discouraged
Reducing debt is like losing weight. You’re not going to lose 50 pounds in a month – you need realistic goals in reasonable timeframes, and debt works the same way. For most people, it takes years to become debt-free. This doesnít mean you have to stop enjoying your life. Itís just a reminder to live within your means and be diligent about adjusting any spending habits that have contributed to the situation you are in today. Dedicating yourself to paying off what you owe and becoming debt-free will be worth the wait, with the payoff being a brighter financial future.

Email to a friend

Your Name:
Your Email:
Recipient's Email:
Message:
Enter code:


The information that you provide through this e-mail feature will not be stored by Visa for any other purposes. Please refer to Visa's privacy policy for details.