After the holidays, many people are looking to undo some of their bad spending habits of the previous year and tidy up their debt.
Knowing what to pay off first can seem like a daunting task but with this six-step plan from Wendy Kraft, branch manager at the Kitimat branch of Envision Financial, a division of First West Credit Union, you’ll be well on your way.
Pay off high-interest debt first
I recommend paying off your most expensive debt first – typically your high-interest rate credit cards—as those can quickly get out of hand. Making two smaller payments per month instead of one, will eliminate your debt much faster and save yourself a lot of interest. You can then take that money and focus on paying down the next most expensive debt.
Take advantage of free banking
Read the fine print on your financial services agreements to scout out what has service charges. Shop around for services that are free, such as no-fee day-to-day banking, e-transfers or online bill payments. Those costs add up if you aren’t aware of them. You can reallocate that saved cash to your debt repayment plan instead.
Set up automatic payments
Automatic payments will ensure you don’t miss any payments and incur penalties—which can also inflict serious damage on credit ratings and impact future borrowing such as getting a mortgage or loan.
Get free rewards and use points for household expenses
It also makes sense to take advantage of reward programs on credit cards—but only if you immediately pay the balance off in full. You’ll rack up reward points that you can in turn use to buy free groceries every few months.
Renegotiate your car loan
Cars have become a necessity, but as a depreciating asset, you need to be mindful of the potential consequences of having a term that’s too long. If you have a 10 -year term, the car might not even be running by the time you pay it off.
Talk to an expert
Lastly, visit your local Envision Financial branch.
Our financial professionals are here to help you establish a budget or manage your debt repayment plan—and our advice is always free.