Manage Debt

Learn How to Manage Your Debt

Struggling with debt? Having a hard time paying bills or keeping to your budget? Worried about bankruptcy? Explore ways to get back on track.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, you may have too much debt:

  • Making only the minimum payment on your credit cards
  • Charging more each month than you pay
  • Using credit for items you previously purchased with cash
  • Being close to your credit limits and applying for new cards
  • Needing a consolidation loan to pay existing debt
  • Not knowing the amounts you owe
  • Draining your savings to pay debts

Take a look at your loans, their monthly/periodic payments and their rates. Next, consider which of these options for reducing and paying off debt is best for you:

  • Start with the lowest balance. The satisfaction of paying off a debt can provide the motivation you need to tackle the next pay-off.
  • Start with the highest interest rate. This method helps you lower the amount you pay in interest and gives you more money to save or put toward another debt.
  • Start with the debt that gives you the most stress. Paying off this type of debt can improve your financial picture and help reduce your stress.
  • Consider debt consolidation. Sometimes, consolidating outstanding debts into one loan can reduce not only your monthly/periodic payment, but also the total interest amount you pay.

Explore resources to help you get on track.

Understand the six things that can damage your credit score and history the most.

  • Charge-offs. Six months or more of missed payments can result in your account being deemed " noncollectable ." The creditor writes off the account and reports it as "charged-off." Charge-off information stays on your credit report for seven years from the date of the charge-off.
  • Debt collections. Many creditors hire third-party collectors who attempt to collect payments on charged-off accounts. Collection accounts may show up on your credit report and/or the original creditor may place a note on your report indicating the account is in collection status. This information stays on your credit report for seven years from the date of the last delinquency.
  • Bankruptcy. All accounts included in the bankruptcy will be identified on your credit report. A Chapter 13, where a plan is developed to repay all or part of your debts, stays on your report for seven years. A Chapter 7, the discharge of all your debts, stays for 10 years.
    Foreclosure. Defaulting on your mortgage causes severe damage to your credit score and stays on your report for seven years.
  • Tax liens resulting from unpaid property taxes. Unpaid tax liens remain on your report normally for 10 years at the discretion of the credit reporting agency; paid tax liens remain for seven years.
  • Lawsuits or judgments. Creditors may take you to court and sue for the debt if other collection attempts fail. If the lawsuit is credible and a judgment is entered against you, it will remain on your credit report for seven years from the date of the filing, even if you pay the judgment.