debt

2 steps for debt management

If you have credit card debt, you're not alone. But if you don't have a debt management strategy, you're really in trouble. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Get organized

If you're like many Americans, a large portion of your debt is probably spread out over multiple credit cards. If that's the case, you need to organize your credit cards before you can begin to put together a debt management strategy. Here's how:

  • Ask yourself if you need to consolidate your debt. If you're looking to get a lower interest rate, consolidation may make sense. But if you're simply trying to lower your monthly payments or extend the term of the loan, you could be digging yourself into a deeper hole.
  • Examine all your balances and interest rates. 
  • Eliminate small credit card balances first and work your way up, or tackle the balance with the highest rate first to save the most money.

Use a calculator

One of the keys to successful debt management is the ability to do the math so you can prioritize your bills and weigh them against your income. Thankfully, even if you're not a math person, Bankrate has a slew of calculators that can help you answer almost any question, whether you need to know the true cost of paying your minimum balance, if you should borrow from your 401(k) or which credit card makes the most sense for you.

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Debt Adviser

Can consolidation hurt my credit?

Dear Debt Adviser, I have about $50,000 of debt on credit cards. My credit rating is still high. I am considering a debt consolidation loan. Will that adversely affect my credit rating? -- DT Dear DT, The cliche about... Read more

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