During my sophomore year in college every day as I walked to class I passed tables where vendors urged students to fill out a credit card application, bribing us with a free t-shirt, water bottle or key chain, so I signed up for one. I received preapproved offers in the mail, and within three years I owned 13 credit cards and owed $10,000.
Things really went downhill when I moved out on my own. After six months I lost my job and my credit got even worse: I owed $11,000. I bought a car in my name for my boyfriend who agreed to pay the car note. He stopped making payments and the car was repossessed. I ended up owing $8,000 dollars on top of the $11,000 that I already owed. During this time I was working full-time, making $21,000 a year.
I put myself on a budget and set up payment plans with each creditor. I found a partñtime job to help pay down my debt. I worked both jobs for one year. By the end of the year, I saw results and had paid down some of my debt. However, the entire process to become completely debt-free took four years. Here are 10 techniques I used to pay my debt:
1. Reduce expenses. Reduce your expenses to find extra money to pay down your debts such as: pack your lunch for work every day; buy items on sale or shop at a wholesale store such as Costco; carpool or take public transportation to work; cancel your cable, cell phone or Internet service or get the cheapest plan possible; buy energy efficient appliances, programmable thermostats or hot water insulator jackets.
2. Sell some items. Sell some assets such as jewelry, a second car and clothing, or hold a yard sale to sell unused items.
3. Set up a debt payoff plan. Setup a debt payoff plan to prioritize your bills. By using the debt snowball method you will be able to quickly pay off some of your debts. Start by paying off the smallest bills first, then use the money paid towards a previous bill and apply it to the next bill, and continue this process until all your debts are paid.
4. Set up a payment plan. Set up a payment plan with each of your creditors to pay off your debts. Be honest, humble and sincere. Identify any terms and negotiations you would like to make and stick to the terms.
5. Reduce your interest rate. If you have a decent credit score and have not made any late payments in the past year, you can negotiate with your creditors to lower your interest rate.
6. Pay more than the minimum monthly payment. If you pay only the minimum monthly payment, you will end up paying 2 to 3 times what you actually charged due to the interest and finance charges that accrues on your balance. Try to send extra towards your balance each month.
7. Don't transfer balances. Transferring balances to another credit card may lower your credit score and there may be fees associated with transferring the balance. It is important to pay off the full balance before the introductory rate special ends, because after the introductory rate ends the interest rate may drastically increase.
8. Collection Accounts. An account is usually reported to a collection agency if the account is 90 to 120 days late. Contact the original creditor to see if you can set up a payment plan. If you are unsuccessful, contact the collection agency to set up a payment plan.
9. Settlement. Some creditors will negotiate with you by asking for a reduced amount "settlement" to settle the account in exchange for paying the debt quickly; however, it is best to pay the full amount because a settlement reported on your credit report may lower your credit score.
10. Pay with cash. Pay for purchases with cash until your credit card balances are paid in full. If you pay for an item with a credit card you end up paying 112% the original cost of the item.
While you are in the process of paying off debts, if a creditor continues to call you and is harassing you, inform them of your particular situation, get the personís name, date and time they called and tell them when you will be able to make a payment. Don't apply for new credit, get a payday loan or cash advance. Following these 10 tips will help you get out of debt and be on your way to a debt-free life.