When it comes to finance, it’s easy to fall into the “poor me” trap when things don’t seem to be going your way.
Before getting on the path to paying down debt, get your attitude in check. Even if you’re not where you want to be, you probably have more going for you than you think. If you’re living with a parent, sibling or family member, realize that you have someone who loves you enough to open their home to you. If you have a job — even if it’s not well-paying — you’re fortunate. Millions of others would love to be able to say that they’re working. If you’re a parent, be grateful: so many others desperately want to have children. In your 20s, 30s or even 40s? You’re young, and time is still on your side.
Self-esteem may not pay your bills directly, but it can keep you motivated so you can accomplish your financial goals — whether it’s being debt-free, buying a house or paying for college.
Once you can hold your head up high, take steps to get started on a better life. Use our credit card payoff calculator to enter the amount of debt and the interest rate for each of your credit card accounts. Determine how much you would need to pay each month to pay off your debt in three years. Next, take a look at your other monthly expenses – things like child care, food, transportation and rent. Determine if you can afford to meet the monthly amount you first calculated while still providing for monthly expenses.
After this exercise, you should have a pretty good idea of how desperate your situation really is. For example, if you need $600 per month to pay off what you owe in three years, and you can realistically only afford to pay $50 per month, you may want to discuss your options with an attorney. But if you find you could afford to pay $500 per month, you may decide to tighten your belt to come up with the additional $100 to get things paid off, or perhaps extend the time frame for paying off your debt.
Once you know where you stand objectively and without emotion, you have some decisions to make and a plan to design.