Now that the holidays now behind us, it's time to put a dent in those credit card bills and start putting money away.
But if you feel like you're in a financial hole, here are some ways to climb out.
First, debt counselors say focus on your necessities.
That includes rent and mortgage payments, and utilities like heat and water.
Pay those first before your credit card.
Also, evaluate your outside bills like cell phones and cable.
Only pay for what you really need.
Canceling a few options can equal hundreds of dollars by the end of the year.
And lastly, save money.
Experts say everyone needs a cushion for emergencies.
The last thing you want to use on that sudden car or medical bill is your credit card, especially if you're in debt.
"You want to know where you are on your debts at all times as well as knowing where you are on savings,” said Melvin Anderson of Decatur. “I often tell my grandkids spend a little, save a lot. I try to live by that rule, too."
If these tips don't seem like enough - experts say get help.
Find a credit or debt management agency and make sure it's a non-profit that won't charge an up front fee.
Debt counselors say you should treat your life like a business.
You’re the manager - so stay on top of your expenses to keep it running.
Here are a few more tips:
- Watch out “getting out of debt” scams. Never send money to a debt management agency ahead of time. And if the company wants you to pay for their assistance with your credit card – it’s only going to make your debt worse.
- If you’re a parent, make sure your kids know your family’s financial situation. Children are better at helping out and keeping their parents on track with spending more than you think.
- Don’t go into collections. If you get a collection notice, you need to get it fixed immediately.
Central Illinois Debt Management & Credit Education Inc. provided all the tips.
The company has offices in Champaign, Danville, Springfield, and Peoria.
If you’d like to get one-on-one counseling, call 1-888-671-2227Or click here!