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TIP: Make 2014 the Year You Become Debt-Free

Did you start the new year with a mountain of debt? Don’t feel bad; millions of people are in the same boat. But no matter how much you owe, you can make changes today to get out of debt and build a stronger financial future.

Better Business Bureau and ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions are encouraging consumers to be “calculated budgeters” in their efforts to get out of debt. Here are five tips to help you be more calculated in budgeting and debt reduction in the new year:

#1 Set up a household budget to guide your spending patterns. Adjust expenses to find extra money to pay down credit card and other revolving debt – even $50 a month will help.

#2 Choose a method. Debt management experts advise either paying off higher-interest balances first (this is the ladder method of debt repayment) or paying off smaller balances first (called the snowball method, because you build momentum). Either way, you’ll be moving in the right direction.

#3 Ask for lower rates. Most credit card companies will lower interest rates when asked, especially if you mention a “hardship plan.” Lower rates mean your payments go more toward principal instead of interest.

#4 Send extra payments. Make at least the minimum payment each month on every account, but send that extra amount to the chosen payoff account. As soon as that debt is paid off, put its payment and the extra toward the next account on your target list.

#5 Stick to the plan. It can be tempting to use your credit cards again once the balances are lowered, but that will only make it harder to get out of debt, and the process may take much longer. Resist the temptation and keep your eyes on your long-term goal.

To get started with budgeting and debt reduction, check out this Budget Calculator from Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions.

For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.

About BBB Serving West Florida

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Better Business Bureau Serving West Florida provides business reviews on companies within its 11 county service area to include: Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, Desoto, Charlotte, Lee & Collier.  For reliable tips, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and BBB Business Reviews you can trust on local businesses, visit www.bbb.org.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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