Debt Management

Debt Management

If you are experiencing financial problems you are not alone, consider the following statistical facts from reported by Federal Reserve:
  • Consumer debt stands at a record 1.6 Trillion and growing
  • Over the last decade, consumer debt has increased by over 120%
  • The average American Family spends $400 more that it earns each year
  • Consumer debt is growing at the rate of $1,000 per second.
  • The average person spends 23% of their take home pay servicing existing debt
  • 56% of all divorces are caused, in part, by the financial tensions created by consumer debt
  • The average student carries $2,748 in credit card debt.  
  • The average American has over $4,000 in credit card debt
  • Student loan debt in our country exceeds the entire amount of car loan debt
If you are facing debt problems, here are a few practical solutions:
  1. Establish a household budget. Plan ahead, control impulse spending, and stick to the budget. The budget must be realistic and account for expenses which do not occur each month. Budget advice is available from most county extension agents, from most churches, and from non-profits like the United Way.
  2. List all debts and all assets. You need to know your overall financial situation and a personal financial statement listing the value of assets and the amount of debt is a must. Too many people only look at the minimum required to service their debt and not at the bottom line amount. As scary as it may be, you need to know the value of what you own and the total amount that you owe.
  3. Stop accumulating new debt! Cancel available credit, destroy unused credit cards, and operate on a cash basis.
  4. Limit spending. Try to buy only what is needed, grocery shop with a specific list, get by on only the essential clothing purchases, etc. Sacrifices must be made to get out of debt and there are only a few areas in most household budgets where drastic cuts can be made.
  5. Try to increase income. Try working overtime or take on a second job (provided that this dose not impact or harm relationships with family and children)
  6. Consider a drastic change in lifestyle. Moving into smaller home, canceling luxury services like cable and cell phones, buying a cheaper car, selling off property to pay down debt, etc.
  7. Establish a debt repayment schedule. Pay down smaller credit cards and debts first, reduce the number of creditors, then concentrate on paying the highest interest debts, and then double up whenever possible to pay more than the minimum. (If you pay only the minimum, be prepared for a very long repayment.)
  8. Finally, BE REALISTIC. Debts are rarely created overnight. It takes time and hard work to get out of debt. Interest works against you. If necessary, discuss matters with a professional.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties, now is the time to take charge of your financial life. There are legal options available; however, sometimes all that is needed is help with debt management, negotiation with creditors, or simply help in putting together a household budget and a plan to get out of debt. The Blackwell Law Firm LLP offers a free consultation to discuss both practical and legal options to deal with financial difficulties. To set up an appointment call (806) 331-3130.
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