From car loans to student loans, credit card balances and other revolving debt, U.S. consumer debt is higher today than ever before.
Indeed, that figure now exceeds $4 trillion for the first time, according to CNBC.com 2019 estimates. To reduce and eliminate your own debt, consider the following tips:
• Review where your money is being spent. Create a budget for monthly expenses and stick to it.
• Get inspired by expert-touted financial strategies and pick one to follow. One popular example is the debt snowball plan, whereby you pay off bills smallest to largest, no matter the interest rates. Or, use the debt avalanche method, paying off highest interest rate debts first, or balancing transfers to credit cards with the lowest interest rate.
• Fifty-eight percent of Americans report less than $1,000 in total savings, according to a 2018 GOBankingRates survey. Without an emergency fund, unexpected expenses can quickly become a crisis, throwing you off track. Work toward growing a savings fund, even if it’s just $500 to $1,000.
• If a retirement savings program is offered by your employer, participate. Of Americans 55 and older, 48 percent have nothing put away in a 401K-style contribution plan or individual retirement account, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Many employers offer matching programs, which is essentially free money. Don’t leave it on the table!
• If your company offers an employee purchase program, consider enrolling, as this can offer you greater financial flexibility. One example is Purchasing Power, one of the fastest-growing voluntary benefit providers, which gives workers the option to pay for consumer goods and services over the course of six or 12 months through automatic payroll deduction. With no interest on the purchase, no fees and no credit check, this a viable way to break the cycle of predatory lending options.
“Those high-interest credit cards, payday loans, pawn, title pawn and rent-to-own contracts might all look like lifelines when you’re faced with a necessary expense you can’t immediately afford, but they can be traps leading to compounding interest rates and hidden fees,” says Richard Carrano, Purchasing Power CEO.
For more information, visit purchasingpower.com.
• Leverage any other financial wellness benefits offered by your employer, like budgeting tools, financial counseling and automated savings and bill-paying services.
• Engage family members in your efforts. Together, celebrate small wins achieved each week or month. Remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
U.S. Consumer debt may be at an all-time high, but it doesn’t need to be for you personally. Get inspired to gain a solid financial footing.