Being in debt is never fun, but for singles it can be even worse. Without a spouse to share the weight of a bad credit score or huge student-loan payments, your financial situation is entirely on your shoulders. Read on for some tips on getting out of debt so you can begin to enjoy your life!
Obtain Copies of Your Credit Score
There are more mistakes in credit scores than you’d imagine. Once per year, you’re entitled to a copy of your credit score from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Get these, and check each entry carefully to ensure accuracy. You may also want to sign up for a free credit-monitoring site (CreditKarma is a trusted resource) in order to keep track of your score and red-flag inaccuracies in real time.
Break Down Your Debt
Once you have a basic understanding of your current credit score, it’s time to move on to your actual debt load. Sit down at a table with each and every bill, loan and any type of outstanding debt. Create a document listing these, their monthly minimum payments and their interest rates. If you have anything specific, such as a “no interest until” offer, carefully mark the date on which it expires. Also list the dates each month when minimum payments are due.
Pick Your Battles
Now you have a clear picture of how much you owe, and when you owe it. Your next step is figuring out how to tackle it intelligently. There are a couple strategies for this. One is to tackle the biggest debt first. For some people this will be a student loan, for others a huge credit card bill. Your other option is to take the smallest piece of debt – perhaps a credit card with a low limit – and pay that off first. The theory behind this strategy is that you’ll feel motivated and more in control once you’ve paid something – anything – completely off. The choice is yours.
Create a Budget
Nobody likes budgets, but they’re an essential part of life. This is especially true of singles living on one income. Sit down and create another document detailing all of your income. Next, deduct what needs to be paid, remembering that it’s always best to pay more than the minimum payment due whenever possible. You’re focusing on your debts, but remember that an accurate budget needs to include all expenses, including food, rent, car payments and other necessities.
Hopefully, you’ll have a bit of money left over after paying for everything. Depending on your personality, you can designate this “fun money,” or use it to put toward your debt. While piling every spare penny into your debt sounds like the only reasonable route, it can backfire. Some people, after months of depriving themselves of even the tiniest extras, go a little nuts and end up splurging on something they can’t afford. You know yourself better than anybody else.
Choose the route which feels best for you, while keeping in mind that every penny not spent on your bills represents being in debt a tiny bit longer. The majority of people function best when a small amount of “fun” money is used on little splurges each month. Think flavored coffee and a thermos, however – not $7.00 lattes three times per day!