In today’s society, we tend to accumulate debt without giving it much thought. That was once seen as a sign of severe irresponsibility. But it has become so common these days that it seems more like a matter of mimicking what we see around us than a character flaw. Whether you’re managing your debt well or struggling with it, it’s important to know how much you owe to each creditor, and how much you owe all together. In this case, ignorance might seem like bliss, but it’s actually quite dangerous. Do you know how much you owe?
Do You Know How Much You Owe?
With consumers getting into more debt than ever before, it’s no surprise that many have no idea just how much debt they are in. They get the bills each month, but instead of looking over the finance charges and account balance, they only take note of the minimum payment. Bill collectors might call to remind them of their balances, but those who are in over their heads often let the answering machine get it rather than talking to them.
Whether you’re managing your debt well or struggling with it, it’s important to know how much you owe to each creditor, and how much you owe all together. In this case, ignorance might seem like bliss, but it’s actually quite dangerous. If you have no idea how much you owe, it’s hard to come up with a plan to get out of debt.
If you can’t at least come up with a good estimate of how much you owe, now is the time to sit down and take inventory of your debts. Here’s what you need to include:
- How much credit card debt do you have? The balance of each card should be included on each of your monthly statements. Get out your latest ones and add them up. And while you’re at it, see how close you are to your credit limit on each card. If you’re down to the wire, you’ll need to take care not to charge any more and try to start paying it down.
- What is the balance on your mortgage, your car loan, and any other loans you have? If you don’t get monthly statements for these debts, call your creditor and ask for your balance. In the case of home and car loans, it’s also important to know how much equity you have.
- Do you have any unpaid medical bills? We often forget about these, but it’s important to get them paid because they do show up on our credit reports. In some states they can’t officially be held against us when obtaining credit, but they are there for anyone who does a credit check to see.
- What about student loans? These can haunt us long after we’ve finished college. Interest on student loans is usually relatively low, but if you request a deferment or forbearance it can add up in a hurry.
- Do you have any other debts that haven’t been paid? If you’re not sure, get a copy of your credit report. Any outstanding debts should be listed.
Once you’ve added up how much you owe, you’ll probably be more motivated to get it all paid off. The next step is to take a look at your spending habits and see where you can cut back. If you cut out excess spending and put the money saved toward eradicating your debt, you’ll get rid of it much sooner. And knowing that you don’t owe anything is truly a wonderful feeling!