is the best way for me to pay down my debt? Balance
transfers? Home equity loan? My debt is around
$43K, not including mortgage. My house is worth
about $162K; I owe about $121K. My husband and
I bought the house approximately two and a half
years ago. Please advise.
Christy Garland, Texas
The best way to pay down debt is to just get focused and put every dime you have toward knocking it out. How you handle money is 80 percent behavior; it's only 20 percent head knowledge. Unless you change your spending behavior, you'll just keep accumulating more debt. First, do a written budget for the month -- you and your husband should work together on it so you are both on the same page and committed to it. A budget is your way of telling your money what to do. Then make sure you have $1,000 in the bank to cover small emergencies that will come up while you are getting out of debt. If you don't have an emergency fund, you'll be tempted to use debt again. Once you have your emergency fund, list all your debts, smallest to largest -- not including your mortgage. Pay minimum payments on all the debts except the smallest and put everything you can toward the smallest. When that one's paid, move on to the next smallest and so on until you pay off all the debts on the list. We call this the "debt snowball" because as you go down the list you have more and more money to put toward each debt -- like a snowball rolling down a hill.
|-- Posted: March 24, 2008