When I was 20 years old making, $20,000 per year and in almost as much credit card debt, I was scared I'd be broke forever. But I got through it. And, I'll tell you, if I can as a first-generation American with zero knowledge of finance at the time, then so can you.
The truth is, in order to build a strong financial foundation for your life, you have to tackle your debt. Sure, it's not fun, but you're only hurting yourself (and your future) if you don't. Because regardless of how well you budget or save, if you have debt hanging over your head, you'll have a hard time getting ahead with your money. Here's how to start slaying your debt:
Chances are, you have more than one type of debt. The four major kinds of debt include credit cards, car loans, student loans, and mortgages. Get this into your head now: Debt needs to be prioritized by rate. If all the rates feel jumbled, go back and check what your current rates are or the range for "revolving" debt (the kind for which payments vary from month to month) and put them in a list from highest to lowest.
Now use this list to pay down the debt with the highest interest rate first, which is usually your credit card. You want to do this because the interest on this kind of debt will pile up the quickest, resulting in you paying more in the long run. Typically debt should be paid in this order:
1. Credit cards: Because they have the highest interest rates, so this form of debt will add up the fastest.
2. Car loans: Because ; no sense paying more interest on it as it decreases in value.
3. Mortgage: Because your home is only a solid asset if you actually own it.
4. : Because they are long-term debt and thus will eat into your retirement savings.
Make a timetable to pay off your debt and don't drag it out. Schedule your debt payments to automatically come out of your paycheck each month so you don't even have a chance to spend that money on something else. It doesn't hurt as much if you never see that money in the first place.
Give yourself a realistic timetable to pay it off, but don't set comfy deadlines. Paying debt off isn't a comfy thing. Don't forget: The longer you drag it out, the more money you'll be shelling out for interest. And again, just like a regular diet, you're cheating yourself if you slack.
Call your credit card company and ask for a lower APR. : medical bills, cable bills, and, of course, your credit card rate. Don't accept the sticker price on anything. Creditors have an incentive for you to pay the debt back even at a lower rate, especially if it is "unsecured debt," like credit card debt, since they don't have any collateral to take if you don't pay them back (unlike with "secured debt," such as a mortgage, which is backed by something the lender can take away if you don't pay them back). So try and try again. You might also qualify for a hardship plan, which could lower your rates or payments or both.