Too Much Debt? How to Break the Debt Cycle
It all started so innocently. You took out a short-term loan one December to help you meet all your gift-giving obligations, but when the payment came due, you had to take out another loan to cover it. Then a year later, with that loan still in the process of being paid, you had to take out a credit card to get the new clothes you needed for a new job. Then, on your way to your first day of work, the car you’d owned for years broke down, so you took out an auto loan to pay for a new one. The economy turned sour, you got your hours cut at work, and you’re now struggling to keep up with all your payments.
As a result, your credit score went downhill, and you’re now unable to refinance your loans or transfer your credit card balance for better terms elsewhere, which continue to bring your credit score even lower.
Welcome to the debt cycle, where your debt levels drive your credit score downward, and the resulting low credit score hinders your ability to refinance your debt.
If this situation sounds familiar, you are not alone. Millions of Americans make just enough to barely keep up with their bills, and many are not even that fortunate. While this cycle of debt and credit may seem impossible to escape, there are some simple principles to follow that can help you do just that.
1. Keep Paying Your Payments
It is very tempting to just stop making payments on your debt and to allow whatever will happen, to happen. This is the last approach you want to take, as it will wreak havoc on your life financially for years. Your credit will be destroyed, and you will find it very difficult (or even impossible) to find any type of financing when you need it.
Making on-time payments on your debt needs to be your top financial priority. Doing so will maintain or even improve your credit rating as payments get reported to your profile, while also reducing the amount of debt you owe. Combine those two factors, and what do you get? A higher credit score and, thus, more financial options. With a better credit score, you can seek a debt consolidation loan, or a 0% balance transfer credit card, that will lower your monthly payments and help lift you out of the debt cycle.
2. The End Goal: To Pay Off Debt
By now you probably learned your lesson: merely staying afloat in an ocean of debt is not a desirable option. It should be your goal to ultimately pay off your entire balances. Doing so will not only help improve your credit rating, but just imagine all the freed-up money you’d have to spend on other things. No more loan payments? Credit card payments? Mortgage payments? Imagine the possibilities.
Additionally, by paying off your existing debts, you make yourself more attractive for other lenders and creditors to approve you for other forms of financing. If you’ve always wanted a bigger house, you may be able to get financing for it if you can show that you’ve strived to pay on time and that you’ve paid off your past debts. If you would like a loan to start a new business, small business lenders will likely want to look at how you’ve paid on your personal debts. Simply put, paying off your debt opens a world of options to you.
3. If You Need Help, Ask for It
There is no shame in seeking the help and counsel of a trusted professional in breaking the debt cycle. That’s what they are there for. If you find yourself unable to keep up with your payments, or you see no end in sight for your debt struggles, there are many qualified companies that specialize in sorting through such issues.
If you decide to seek help, be sure to put in the effort to find a reputable service that can show a track record of results. After all, escaping the debt cycle is well worth the extra effort.