One of the most obscene four-letter words out there starts with a "D."
Just mentioning the word "debt" gets individuals from all backgrounds to cringe inside. Mortgages, student loans, private loans, and credit card debt all add up to monthly repayments that can become crippling. But Scott Bilker knows there is a way out of debt.
At DebtSmart.com, readers get the opportunity to learn dozens of tips and tools to reduce debt, avoid incurring new debts, and pay off anything owed in a timely fashion (without racking up significant interest rates along the way).
Scott Bilker of DebtSmart.com knows how much debt bothers those who have it, and he understands people need all the help they can get to dig themselves out of debt. That's why he offers helpful information that provides individuals with the tips they need to get out of debt and stay out of debt.
Take a look at some of that information in the interview with Bilker below.
DebtSmart.com offers dozens of tips for people struggling with debt. What do you think is the most effective tool for removing personal debt?
The most effective tool would be to follow these three strategies for removing debt: (1) Get organized. Use your computer, apps, a filing system, understand all your debt and where it is; (2) Become more efficient with your current debts. Transfer balances to lower rates and negotiate with your credit card banks; (3) Earn more money. Even if all your rates are 0%, you have to pay back the money.
How does DebtSmart.com differ from other debt-reduction sites? What makes it unique?
DebtSmart.com aims to teach its readers how to make the best decisions based on the math because the truth is in the numbers. Being DebtSmart is a way of life. It's the process of continuously evaluating where you are now and making the best decisions today. Opportunities and situations change all the time, which is why it's important to keep your mind focused on financial success.
In today's economy, what do you think are some of the biggest problems relating to debt? For instance, what makes it harder for individuals to get out of debt?
The banks are clearly the #1 obstacle in people getting out of debt. It's in their interest (not a joke) to keep people paying as much interest as possible to fatten profits. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with banks making money; however, they go too far. It's up to us to be smart consumers of debt and find the best deals. We must make the banks fight each other for our business. The #2 obstacle is going to be one's beliefs. Many think there is no way to get out of debt and that they'll be trapped forever. That is not true. Once you start to focus on overcoming financial obstacles, you will see that many solutions may be possible.
Is there any form of debt that is good? Do you encourage individuals to pay off certain forms of debt first? If so, what kinds of tips and tools should individuals look for to get rid of bad debt?
Let me be clear on this point: Contrary to popular belief, there is NO such thing as "good" debt or "bad" debt based on how that debt was created. What is "good" and "bad" are spending decisions. For example, it's "good" to spend money on college or bettering yourself, it's "bad" to buy a brand-new $50,000 car when you make $25,000 per year. However, the terms of the debts can be "good" or "bad." For example, car loans are no different than credit card debts and mortgages. The only thing that would make one debt better than another would be the bottom-line interest rate - that's it. For example, a mortgage at 4% may be 3% after tax deductions, but it doesn't EVER beat a 0% loan. Therefore, the best tip for paying off "bad" debt is to always pay the most to the highest interest rate debt first - no matter its balance.
Student loan debt is something millions struggle with every day. What do you think of student loan debt, and how do you think it should be addressed?
The best strategy with student loan debt is to balance the longest repayment terms with the lowest rate so you have a low minimum monthly payment. Having a small payment will give you more financial flexibility; however, the goal should be to pay far more than that, if possible, so you can extinguish the debt much sooner.
What would the ideal budget look like for someone trying to live within their means?
Income minus expenses equals zero is ideal. However that has to be arranged to make it work. It will be different for everyone, and that's the idea. Included in expenses are savings, debt repayment, and everything spent. In the end, everything is accounted for and you're balanced.
One of your blog topics includes getting couples to talk about money matters. What kind of tips do you offer to help people be more upfront and honest about money?
Being upfront means talking about goals and philosophies about money. The easiest way to get people to be honest would be to have couple share a copy of their credit report with each other. They can get annual copies free at AnnualCreditReport.com. After that, they should share bank statements. Of course, I'm talking about couples that are super serious about staying together. Otherwise, don't say too much.
What are some ways to stay out of short-term debt (e.g., debt formed from holiday shopping, vacations, etc.)?
The easiest way to stay out of short-term debt is to stick to your original plan. Take holiday debt, for example. People may plan to spend, say, $1,000, but then they use their credit cards, which I do recommend for security (among other reasons), and say to themselves, "eh, I can go a little over." Then it becomes $1,200. Then they pay it back with interest over a long period, and it becomes $2,000. So they wound up spending twice what they originally thought they could afford. Simply put, make an affordable plan and stick to it.
In your opinion, what are some ways to stay in great financial health?
Think about money every day, just as you would exercise every day. Explore all opportunities to learn more about finances and debt. Look into all possible credit card balance transfer deals and how you can make them work to save money. Read about new businesses and learn how these entrepreneurs got started and became successful. Keep money on your mind and stay alert.
Please share anything you would like individuals to know about DebtSmart.com.
My goal with DebtSmart.com is in the name. Build a community of readers that want to be smart about their debts and finances. I don't believe in judging people about their past decisions. All that matters is that starting today, you move forward doing what's best for your financial future. One of the easiest ways to save money is to negotiate with your bank. That's why I wrote, "Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt: Phone calls to banks that save more than $43,000 in interest charges and fees." Please pick up a copy because you could start saving money immediately since this is the fastest way to stop the banks from bullying you out of your hard-earned cash.
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