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Your Debt-Reduction Checklist

Are worries about debt weighing you down? Use this checklist to help you curb your expenses and get in better financial health.

  • Cut up your credit cards. If you want to keep one, leave it at home.
  • Organize your financial records. Figure out how much you owe and to whom.
  • Track what you spend this month, looking for unnecessary expenses you can cut next month.
  • Pay bills on time to avoid late charges.
  • Pay credit card balances in full if you can. Next best thing: Make more than the minimum payment.
  • Target debts that have the highest interest rates and fees. Pay them off first.
  • Ask for a raise, offer to work overtime, or look for a second job. Use any extra income to lower debt.
  • Hold a yard sale or sell items you don't need online. Use whatever you make to pay bills.  
  • Start an emergency fund. Use that instead of a credit card for unexpected expenses.
  • Create a barter system. Swap items and services with friends and neighbors to cut expenses.
  • Look for low-cost entertainment – public parks, movies from the public library, picnics instead of restaurant dinners.
  • Talk with your family. Get everyone’s buy-in on your debt-reduction plan.
  • Contact your creditors. Ask about negotiating a payment plan.
  • Consolidate higher-interest credit card balances to one with a lower interest rate.
  • Keep your eyes on the future! Paying off bills isn’t fun now, but it will improve your life and help you achieve goals long term.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 06, 2013

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