From credit card bills to medical expenses, incurring debt is a shared reality. For many Americans, it’s also a source of stress. Yet tackling debt is often more manageable than you might think and expert advice can make a big difference.
To help you take charge of your finances, we’ve asked two financial experts to share their insights on how to tackle debt and manage your money more effectively.
What’s the best way to take control of my spending?
Getting your spending under control requires a clear understanding of how and where you’re spending your money. “It starts with awareness and mindfulness,” says Marguerita Cheng, a certified financial planner and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth. “Sometimes we have mindless routines and habits but it’s important to build money rituals so that we can practice self-care.”
Matt Lattman, vice president, Discover® Personal Loans agrees, emphasizing the importance of taking actionable steps. “Start by creating a ritual that works for you each month—maybe that’s the envelope budgeting system, or finding time to balance a checkbook, or keeping a spreadsheet—you may want to try out different tools and tactics to find what works for you,” he explains. “Next, make a list of all of the money you have coming in, after taxes, and then make a list of all the money going out each month. When you’re budgeting, these lists will make it harder to forget expenses that occur less often, like car insurance.”
How can I manage debt without feeling overwhelmed?
Dealing with debt can often feel challenging, but establishing a clear plan can help to reduce the feelings of stress you may experience. “Acknowledge that you want to improve your situation and accept responsibility,” says Cheng. “This includes recognizing what circumstances contributed to the debt. It’s helpful to understand these so you can learn from them and set reasonable goals.”
Both Cheng and Lattman also suggest focusing on what you can do to feel more empowered moving forward. Keeping close tabs on your account balances and your credit score are helpful ways to feel more in control and limit additional debt in the future.
What are some solutions I can consider for debt management?
A few solutions can help you manage debt effectively including a balance transfer or a personal loan. Depending on your situation, one or the other may be more appropriate.
“If you have debt payments that perhaps fluctuate monthly, or have higher interest than you’d like, you may want to consider a loan for debt consolidation,” says Lattman. “Because personal loans often have a lower interest rate than credit cards, they can help you put more of your money toward paying off your debt—saving you money on interest in the long run.”
With a fixed rate and set regular monthly payment, a Discover personal loan can be an effective solution. You’ll be able to borrow anywhere from $2,500 to $35,000 to pay off existing balances and you can choose a loan repayment term that works for you. You may also save hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars on interest by consolidating higher-rate debt. To estimate your savings, check out Discover’s debt consolidation calculator and input your outstanding balances.
While tackling debt may feel challenging, having a plan in place can help you pay down your balances and improve your financial wellness. This can have a significant impact on how you manage your money and provide you with more financial security going forward. As someone who has been advising clients about their finances for years, Cheng explains that this should be a top goal: “We need to take care of ourselves and our loved ones today and in the future.”