Five Debt Mistakes to Avoid
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Some people are so far in debt they describe themselves as "swimming in debt." If you—or someone you know—are "in over your head," here are five things to avoid when dealing with overwhelming debt:
Always pay more than the minimum payment. Credit card companies love customers who only pay the least amount possible. By handling credit card debt in this way, it is sure to grow and become insurmountable.
Don't use easily obtained, high-interest loans to pay off your lower-interest debt. Yes, it's easier to pay only one payment, but it will cost more money in the long run.
Operating Outside of a Budget
Having a budget can give you an accurate picture of how much you make and how much you spend. Not having one is a major financial mistake.
Canceling Credit Cards
Don't cancel your credit cards. This may sound counterintuitive, but credit scores take into account many different factors, like credit length and credit limit. When you close your accounts after paying off your cards, you reduce or eliminate both of those factors, resulting in a reduced credit score.
A Debt Consolidator
Avoid hiring debt-consolidation companies. Most of them charge an up-front fee in exchange for no guarantees. After going into debt consolidation, your accounts will most likely be frozen, and you won't have access to credit in the event of an emergency. In addition, the company you hire will report "third-party assistance" to the credit bureaus, which can affect future loans.
Dealing with too much debt takes an honest evaluation of your situation. After that, it makes sense to start with a reasonable plan to journey out of debt and into financial freedom.