Taming The Debt Monster

By Noel Brinkerhoff

There are two kinds of scare processes. One kind isn’t really scary at all, like the one described in the film Monsters, Inc., which playfully told us how all those imaginary monsters got into our closets when we were children. The other scare process – the real scare process – is worse than anything Saw II or The Hills Have Eyes has to throw at you. No, the real scare process has to do with that hideous monster lurking in your life at all times.

Debt.

Although it may not have big pointy teeth, personal debt can scare the crap out of anyone if it gets too big for your own good. Seemingly everywhere you turn – from the comfort of your sofa, the warmth of your kitchen, the peace of your backyard – your debts can rear up in your thoughts and destroy a good time like Godzilla going to town on Tokyo.

But like Mike and Sulley in Monster, Inc., the debt monster in your life doesn’t have to be a fright-fest. There are many ways you can turn that beast into a big joke and never have to worry about it rampaging around in your life again. Are the interest rates on your credit card balances insufferably high? Then consider debt consolidation. Debt consolidation allows you to combine all of your debts at one interest rate and only pay one bill a month, thus saving you money and reducing the burden on your monthly budget. There’s two ways to do this.

One involves improving your credit score, which in turn will lower the interest rate you’re being charged, and the payment you have to shell out each month. Stephen Snyder’s Lifestyle Course shows you how to lower your interest rate on all your credit cards, how to increase credit limits or even get approved for no-money down financing.

Another way to consolidate your debt is doing it yourself. Some credit card companies, such as American Express, offer great deals if you transfer your debt from one or more of your existing credit cards onto a new American Express card. American Express offers a variety of credit cards with great interest rates on balance transfers that last until you pay off the debt. Some rates are as low as 2.9%. But our favorite is the Freedom Pass, which gives you 5,000 bonus points with your first purchase. You earn one point for each dollar you spend, so think about how much savings you’re racking up on flights, hotel stays, car rentals or cruises. With no blackout dates and no restrictions, this is the card to have. And best of all, there is no annual fee and 0% Intro APR.

Once you get a handle on your existing debt and start to pay it down, you will want to make sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes that got you into debt in the first place. This requires changing the way you budget your money, which is no easy task. The problem with most budgets is you never really know how much you can afford to spend each day and stay out of trouble.

But accounting expert David Wright has developed a new way of keeping track of personal finances that eliminates any guessing when it comes to knowing how much money you have to spend. His Simply Budgets computer software helps you create a financial plan that covers your entire year and shows exactly where your finances need to be on a day-to-day basis so you’re not left wondering what you can buy or how much you can spend.

If you’re looking for more information on how to deal with your debts, there are a number of good books out there to consult. The best comes from finance wiz Scott Bilker, who has written several books on personal finance and dealing with money problems, including Credit Card & Debt Management: A Step-By-Step How-To Guide for Organizing Debt & Saving Money on Interest Payments. It’s a good place to start figuring out what all of your options are and which ones are best for you to get your debt under control.

And once you do that, you’ll sleep better at night knowing the coast is clear – in your closet, under your bed, and in your bank account.

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Copyright Noel Brinkerhoff – he is founder of Find Your Prosperity. He is a nationally-published writer specializing in journalism and screenwriting.

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