When you’ve finally made the commitment to pay off your debt, the first thing you’ll do is list all of your individual debts. But keeping up with multiple accounts is difficult, and you may have a hard time remembering whom you owe and how much you owe. Here’s what you should do if you aren’t sure how much debt you have.
Log in to your online accounts
If you know whom you owe, but you’re not sure how much, log in to each of your online accounts to check your balances and interest rates. If you don’t have online accounts, call your creditors to get your balance and interest rate, and then sign up for online accounts — it’s so much easier to manage things on the web. Provided you’re certain you know who all of your creditors are, you’re done! But if you think you may be missing a few …
Open your mail and answer your phone
If you’ve been avoiding your creditors, it’s time to face the music to the tune of collection agencies and past-due letters. Answer those unknown numbers and find out what account the collection pertains to, how much you owe, and how you should be paying it. Don’t make a payment plan with the phone representative yet. You can prioritize debts after you figure out how much you owe overall.
You should also open up your mail and look over your credit card statements. Note the creditor, amount owed, interest rate, minimum payment and due date. Also, check out the minimum-payment warning box for inspiration to pay your debt off faster. For more information on your statement, check out our article about how to read your credit card statement.
Pull your credit reports
Still not convinced you know all of your creditors? It’s time to pull your credit reports. And don’t you worry your indebted head, this is completely free once a year. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to enter your personal info and answer a few identity verification questions. You can choose to pull one, two or all three of your reports, but I’d recommend pulling them all in case one credit bureau omitted a piece of information you need. Check out the Nerds’ article on how to read your credit report to figure out how much debt you have.
OK, I know how much debt I have, now what?
The scary part is over. Now, it’s time to create a plan to pay off your debt. Make a list of debts including your creditor’s name, balance owed, interest rate and due date. Organize these in order from highest interest rate to lowest to get the most bang for your interest buck. For each of the debts besides the first one on your list, you should be making your minimum payment by the due date. Throw the rest of your available cash toward the top debt. Continue this until your first debt is paid off and do the same thing for your second debt. Rinse and repeat until your debt is gone!
Bottom line: If you aren’t quite sure how much credit card debt you have, start by checking your online accounts. For those who aren’t sure whom they owe, it’s a good idea to answer collection calls and open your statements, and then pull your credit reports. After that, tackle your debts from highest to lowest interest rate and enjoy debt freedom!
Confused man image via Shutterstock.