Monday, August 20, 2007

Debt Doesn’t Have to be a Four Letter Word

(ARA) – For the average American, debt is a fact of life. But not all debt should be considered detrimental. Buying a house or a car, or funding your education can be positive, wealth-building steps even though they often require incurring some debt. The key, then, is not to avoid taking on debt at all costs, but to only take on specific, well-considered debts, and manage them wisely so that you control the debt, rather than letting the debt control you.

No matter what kind of debt you are thinking of taking on, there are some basic steps you can take to manage it.

* First, make sure you are getting the best deal, and therefore taking on the least debt, by comparison shopping before you buy. “Whether shopping for a car or a cell phone plan, consumers should do their homework,” suggests Stephen Semprevivo, president of LowerMyBills.com. “A few minutes of research could add up to big savings.”

* Think about making a sizeable down payment. Financing as little as possible will help ensure that you are able to pay the debt off in a timely manner.

* Look for room to negotiate. Many companies -- yes, even credit card companies -- may be willing to negotiate in order to win and keep your business. Always negotiate whenever possible. Hopefully, if you take steps to manage the expense, you may be able to comfortably take on those necessary, and often beneficial, debts that many of us incur without putting your financial stability in potential jeopardy. Of course, there are many consumers for whom debt has already become a burden. If this is your situation, take steps to alleviate the problem and get yourself back on the track to sound financial management.

* If you carry a large balance on your credit card, start making bigger payments. If the calculated minimum payment is only on the accrued interest, then you would need to make a larger payment to hit the principal of the debt. By finally hitting the principal, and discontinuing use of the card for purchases, you should see the balance begin to drop.

* If you own your home, consider refinancing to potentially achieve a better rate or terms on the mortgage, or to use equity to pay off other high-interest debt. “Interest rates are still low,” notes Semprevivo. “Refinancing to a lower rate may free up money each month that can be used to pay down unsecured debt such as credit card debt.” Web sites like LowerMyBills.com can help you evaluate your refinancing options.

* If you’re in over your head, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Debt counseling may help you if you are feeling overwhelmed by assisting with possible ways to help prevent you from defaulting on your debt. The Internet has made it easier than ever to find help. Sites like LowerMyBills.com can help you find the right debt solution for your needs.

*Finally, remember that it’s always a good idea to check with your personal financial and legal advisors for additional information.

Once you’ve taken control of your debt, you can keep on top of things by spending responsibly and living within your means. That way, when the time comes to incur some positive debt, you’ll be ready to make the most of the opportunity.

For more information on how to save money on your monthly bills, visit www.LowerMyBills.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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