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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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Your fresh start

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I've had a few folks in my office recently discussing their budgets and one of the common problems is debt - being overwhelmed about it, not knowing how to tackle it. If you are feeling the same way, or just want to be renewed in your determination to make progress, here are some tips.

Understand the situation There is no need for fancy software or mad technical skills to grab hold of your money situation. All you need is a pad, a pen and the bills. Write the lender's name, the balance due and keep a list of minimum payments. If because of divorce or other life transitions you aren't sure if you are receiving all your bills - and you want to FULLY understand your debt situation get a copy of your credit report, for free, at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Make calls  Things aren't going to accidentally get better by inaction. The only way to take control and face your debt problems is with action. And in this case, that means phone calls. You need to call each lender and discuss terms to get back on track if you behind on repayment. You owe these people. You signed paperwork to pay them. You have not paid them. I'm sure there are good reasons for that, but now you need to see if there is a way to right this situation. Ask. Explain. Be mature and frank. Be polite. The person on the phone is working to pay their bills and is not out to get you. So, really, be polite.

And a plan  Now that you have a handle on your debt condition, you will need to rearrange your spending so a repayment plan can be reliably met. You'll need to have a careful handle on your budget for food and other variable expenses. Variable expenses is the category of your money spent on items that are not necessarily the exact same amount each month. This often means food, entertainment, clothing and other expenses. 

So how can you trim these expenses? Well, you need food, but you don't need to eat out. You need clothing, but you even on sale you may be spending too much. Really challenge your assumptions of how you shop. Shop significantly less. Get your smart shoes on and get to resale shops like Polish and Goodwill for your clothing needs. 

And though you definitely need to make time for rest and relaxation, that doesn't have to mean going to the movies every week followed by going out for adult beverages and food, or activities that divert money now needed for debt repayment.

Don't make things worse - Whatever you do, don't add to the problem because of despair or immaturity. This is not the time for feeling sorry for yourself or acting as if you deserve a better lifestyle. You will have a better lifestyle when the debts are paid off. 

Celebrate  And speaking of a better life, every bit of progress you make is cause to celebrate. You are being responsible and digging yourself out of trouble. You have reason to be happy. So make sure you cheer for your good effort, because every bit of progress you make is awesome!

You will be so darn proud of yourself, you will feel so liberated, when this weight of debt is off your shoulders. Let me tell you know how proud I am of you, friend. Good job!

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