Long-term debt can be an issue that causes significant stress and anxiety – not to mention financial problems that can only worsen with time. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and solutions available if you are looking for a way to get out of long-term debt – or avoid it in the first place.
There are several things to try short of declaring yourself bankrupt, which should only be considered under very specific circumstances. Read on to find out some of the smartest strategies you can use to ensure your finances stay on track.
First things first – assess your finances
The first thing you should do when creating any money management plan is to take stock of your finances – reviewing the money you have coming in against your monthly obligations and any debts you owe.
Next, you should prioritise your payments – and begin a savings plan if you can manage it. This will get you in the habit of regularly setting money aside, which can provide you with an invaluable buffer in the event of an emergency later down the track. Any amount you can save, however small, will be extremely helpful.
Evaluate your debt repayment options
The way you choose to repay your debts is a personal decision, and it will be determined by a number of factors – the amount of money you owe, the number of creditors you need to pay and the rate of interest you are being charged.
It is a wise idea to prioritise your highest-interest debts first – these may include short-term loans and credit cards. If there are certain payments you are particularly struggling with, a quick phone call or a letter to your creditor can make a world of difference – you might be able to come up with a mutually acceptable and manageable plan.
Seek out help if you need it
If you are worried that your debts are spiralling beyond your control, it is wise to take action as quickly as possible – there are plenty of resources to get you started on the road to financial freedom.
If you owe money to a number of creditors, you may need to make a more detailed repayment plan. An independent financial adviser or online personal finance software can be an excellent resource – they can review your financial circumstances and help you to determine which option works best for you. Debt consolidation, for example, allows you to streamline these funds into a single payment, which often carries a lower rate of interest.
Another option is to enter into an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), which also offers you some protection against your creditors as long as you can keep up with your payments and the terms of your agreement.
Bankruptcy is not a process that should be entered into lightly – you should explore all the other avenues for resolving your financial troubles before you seriously consider this option.
If you are declared bankrupt, your assets may be used to pay off your debts and after one year your remaining debts are written off, allowing you to make a fresh start. But because this action also has a number of serious consequences, you should discuss all your choices with a financial professional before you make your final decision.