Results of a study recently released by the Urban Institute revealed that more than 35 percent of Americans are behind with debt collectors. Falling behind on credit card bills or even missing a few payments for that cellphone can be reported to the credit bureaus and hurt your credit score. It’s a disturbing trend among Americans and has remained fairly constant since the recession in 2009.
Debt in America
America’s Debt Help Organization debt.org reports that Americans are drowning in debt and points out the credit cards are to blame for much of the country’s debt problems. The average household carries more than $15,000 in credit card debt and more than 160 million Americans have credit cards, according to debt.org. Each state has its own unique problems —states with the highest debt levels include California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey.
Tips for Dealing with Mounting Debt
You don’t have to be another statistic when it comes to your financial situation and learning how to manage debt and credit effectively will help you enjoy the value of your hard-earned dollars as the years go by. Here are some things you can do to ward off debt collectors and deal with mounting debt:
- Stay current – keep track of due dates and pay at least a few days early to prevent late fees and missed payments. Keeping your accounts current will prevent damage to your credit score and also ward off debt collectors.
- Make a list – make a list of all outstanding debts, including balances and interest rates. Review this list regularly so you can prioritize your debt payment plan and keep tabs on your current debt load.
- Put yourself on a credit freeze – if you have a hard time keeping up with your bills and your debt load only seems to be growing year after year, put all payments using credit on hold for a while. Breaking the credit card and borrowing habit may take some time but can help you get back on a healthy financial track.
- Start talking – don’t be afraid to reach out to creditors to negotiate better rates or review your payment plan. Many will be willing to work with you to ensure the debt gets paid off and will make arrangements that benefit both parties. Negotiating a lower rate or adjusting the payment plan could be all it takes to get a better handle on your debt load.
Sabah Karimi is a professional freelance writer and digital copywriter. She writes personal finance, small business, and marketing content for several mainstream websites and has an educational background in business and marketing.She also writes beauty, fitness, travel, and lifestyle content for private clients.Follow her on Twitter @Sabahk