I just saw the Get out of Debt article in the latest All You magazine.
I agree with some and really don’t agree with others in the article.
1. Prioritize Payments. They recommend prioritizing your payments. Pay living expenses first (of course that doesn’t include cable, or anything that you can live without. It does include mortgage or rent, food, utilities, and child care)
Next pay other secured loans and last are credit cards and unsecured debt. (Better a poor credit rating than out on the street with no food) Of course Cable and phone fit into this category.
2. Negotiate with credit card companies. This will hurt your credit, but might help in the long run.
3. Borrow from your Home. If you have equity and can this might be an option. It will cost you closing costs though. My problem with this is that your credit card debt is unsecured, your house debt isn’t – so you would be rolling unsecured debt into secured debt. A BIG No – No…. You could lose your home this way! If you have to file for bankruptcy, you could keep your house.
4. Borrow from your future. This mentioned borrowing from your 401(K) plan. A BIG No – No also… 401(K) plans are protected in bankruptcy and if you borrow that money could be completely gone if you have to declare bankruptcy. If you have to leave your job they may only give a short time to repay and the IRS will charge a penalty if you can’t repay. REALLY a problem for now and for your future. They didn’t mention borrowing from kid’s college money. I can see that coming higher up the list than this.
5. Enroll in a debt management plan (DMP). If you got into debt due to overspending I can see this. Especially a plan that helps learn correct spending habits. Watch for scams though. They mention that a good program will help you get rid of your debt and rebuild your credit (as well as teaching you to live within your means) That’s great! Choose a NFP that is approved by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Check out http://nfcc.org for info… I have heard a lot of the Dave Ramsey plan, though I differ in views from his plan in several ways, in the case where a family needs to develop good spending habits it is one thing to consider.
6. Steer Clear of debt settlement companies. These are viewed as SCAMS and I totally agree.
I would recommend making a spending log to start with. Right down where you spend all your money (even the .50 gum on the way home)…. I use mint.com and check the break down every week. It helps me track when I’m overspending and sends me a reminder. Really knowing where all your money goes is the first step to managing your money.