FYI: Today’s task will make you put in that WORK, but….. I got you covered with some Budgetnista-approved resources to help you get debt free even faster. Make sure to read the whole post.
Welcome back! Yesterday’s task was great practice for what you’re going to do today: negotiate. Did you know that you can pay less each month toward your debt and still pay it down faster? Yup! I’m going to show you three ways you can begin to do so today.
Use the My Debt List template to help you create a visual picture of the debt you owe.
Click HERE for the PDF version of The Debt List.
Click HERE for the Excel versions of The My Money List and My Debt List.
After you fill out the My Debt List sheet, it’s time to tackle how to restructure your debt so you can pay less each month. Here are three things you can do today to help you do just that:
#1. Call your credit card company(ies) and negotiate for lower rates. The higher your credit score, the more likely they are to work with you. Use the same script I gave you yesterday in “Day 10: Find Money” to help you negotiate.
#2. Transfer the balance of your higher interest rate credit card(s) onto a lower interest rate card(s).
Wondering how to do a balance transfer? Here’s how:
Go to NerdWallet (or another trusted review site) and search for a balance transfer card. Look for a card that offers a 0% interest rate for at least six months and the lowest transfer fee available. Take note that when doing a balance transfer, credit card companies will often charge you a fee of about 3% of the total balance you’re transferring.
FYI: Sometimes credit card companies run a special where you can transfer your balance without a fee. That’s the type of deal you’re looking for.
Once you locate a card you’re interested in, call the company and ask:
- How long will the 0% introductory rate last?
- What will my rate be after the introductory rate expires?
- What happens if I have not paid off my balance after my introductory rate expires? Will I be charged the new rate on the full balance or on the balance I have yet to pay off? This is SUPER important to know.
- How much is the transfer fee?
- What happens if I’m late with a payment?
- How much am I likely to be approved for? You don’t want to have $8,000 in credit card debt and only be approved for $2,500. It’s happened to me because I forgot to ask this question.
- Is there any fine print that I should know about?
Note: If your credit isn’t decent, you may not qualify for a balance transfer card. No worries—you have another option which I explain in #3.
#3. Look into taking out a low-interest rate loan and paying off those high-interest rate cards and student loans. This is another way to restructure your debt and save on interest.
Let’s start with getting a loan for your high-interest credit cards, then I’ll explain how to do the same for your student loans.
How to use a loan to restructure your credit card debt and save:
- Use your My Debt List to:
- Add up how much credit card debt you have.
- Calculate your average interest rate by adding up all of your credit cards’ rates and dividing that number by the number of cards you have. You’ll need to know your average interest rate so you can compare and identify a good deal when you try and refinance your debt.
- Determine your credit score. Use Sofi Relay Credit Score to get an estimate for free.
- Head to NerdWallet (or another trusted review site) to research top personal loans. You’re looking for:
- A company that has a high rating
- A company that will give you a rate without a credit inquiry. Whenever you apply for credit, you generate a hard inquiry on your credit report. Hard inquiries bring down your score and stay on your credit report for two years. You don’t want that, so choose a company that does not generate an inquiry.
- A company that offers a fixed term, fixed interest rate, and no prepayment penalties.
- A company that does not charge upfront fees.
Still not sure what company to choose? Don’t worry. I have a company that I personally recommend and LOVE!
*Note: If your credit is bad, you may not be approved for a personal loan at Sofi. The good thing is, trying at Sofi doesn’t give you a hard inquiry or bring down your credit score. That means, it doesn’t hurt to try. If you’re not approved, review all the steps I’ve given you in #3 above and keep reading.
How to restructure your student loan debt and save:
- Log onto your student loan company’s website.
- Determine if your student loan debt is a private student loan or a federal loan.
- Note: This is SUPER important. If your loans are federal loans, do not—I repeat, DO NOT—refinance them with a private company. Here’s why: the federal government offers a certain level of protection to federal student loan borrowers.
- It takes 9 months of missed payments to default on a federal loan. It takes one missed payment to default on a private loan. A student loan default will dramatically bring down your credit score. Think, bankruptcy and foreclosure. Yup! It’s that serious.
- If you’ve become disabled, unemployed or are experiencing financial hardship, you can apply for forbearance or deferment of your federal loans. Most private loans do not have this option.
- If you work in a specific sector (i.e. teacher, nonprofit etc), you can apply for loan forgiveness if you have federal loans. Private loans do not have this option.
- If you’re unsure if you have federal or private student loans, call your loan provider and ask. If you have federal loans and are having trouble paying, ask to apply for an income-based repayment (IBR) program and any other program that you might be eligible for. Just make sure to keep your federal loans, federal.
- If you have private loans, follow these steps:
- Add up how much student loan debt you have.
- Calculate your average interest rate by adding up all of your private student loan rates and dividing that number by the number of loans you have. You’ll need to know your average interest rate so you can compare and identify a good deal when you try and refinance your loan.
>>Before you look at student loan refinancing companies, STOP. Determine your credit score with Sofi Relay Credit Score.<<
Head to NerdWallet (or another trusted review site) and search for “Student Loan Refinance”. You’re looking for:
- A company with a high rating.
- A company that has no origination fee. An origination fee is an up-front fee charged by a lender for processing a new loan application, used as compensation for putting the loan in place. It’s usually a percentage of the loan.
- A company that has no max. It offers graduates the ability to refinance qualified education loans.
Again, still not sure what company to choose? Then this name will be familiar…
Note: If your credit is bad, you may not be approved to refinance your student loan at Sofi. Just remember at Sofi trying doesn’t give you a hard inquiry or bring down your credit score, so it doesn’t hurt to try. If you’re not approved, review all the steps I’ve given you above and try another company.
I know, I know. Today is going to be a busy day. Don’t let all of the steps discourage you from taking action today. It’s really just four things:
- Call and negotiate a lower interest rate on your existing credit cards.
- Consider transferring your current credit card balance to a lower interest rate balance transfer card. You’ll need good credit.
- Consider refinancing your debt, credit card debt and private student loans with a refinancing company that offers lower interest rates.
- Use my recommended company to help you.
My Student Loan Refinance Company Suggestion: Click: HERE.
I know these work. I myself have done #1 and #2 with great success. I’ve also coached a number of clients, friends, and family on #3. As a result, many of them have saved thousands of dollars a year. Yes, that much!
So what are you waiting for? Your dreams aren’t going to fund themselves. They need your help. Let’s knock today’s task out of the park.
I’m really excited to hear how much you were able to save as a result of today’s task. Share your thoughts, questions, and successes in the comments below.
Make sure to check in with your accountability partner. Have they begun to create a debt restructuring plan? Work on your plans together.
Remember, you’re not in this alone.
Share your process with your fellow Dream Catchers in our Private Community too. Money Management is a team sport.
Remember, you can find me here:
Facebook: The Budgetnista
Forum: Savings Challenge Private Community (if you’re not already a member.)
Tiffany “The Budgetnista”
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