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Taming the Tide: Strategies to Conquer Debt in a High-Interest Rate Environment

Confused man

The winds of economic change have shifted, and for many of us, that means facing a new reality: high interest rates. Ready or not, they're already here. If you're carrying debt, these rising rates can feel like a tidal wave threatening to pull you under. Some people didn't even see it coming. Kicking the can down the road does lead to an eventual ah-ha moment. But fear not, there are strategies you can employ to weather the storm and conquer your debt!


Understanding the Impact of High-Interest Rates

Let's break down the math. Interest is essentially the cost of borrowing money. When interest rates rise, the amount you pay on your outstanding debt increases. This means a larger portion of your minimum payment goes towards interest, leaving less to chip away at the actual principal amount you owe. This can make it feel like you're treading water – paying more but making little headway. The longer the repayment on those debts, the great the impact.


Strategies to Slay the Debt Dragon

Now that we've acknowledged the challenge, here are some actionable strategies to help you tackle your debt in a high-interest-rate environment. Afterall, all debts are essentially borrowing a sum of money with the intention that it will be repaid with interest:


Debt plan
  • Prioritize High-Interest Debt: Not all debt is created equal. Focus on paying down debt with the highest interest rates first. Sounds logical and easy enough. This is known as the avalanche method. By eliminating high-interest debt first, you save a significant amount of money in the long run. Although it seems straightforward, it may be difficult for some to remain engaged if the balance is too large. People enjoy measuring progress and if it takes too long to see results, people just quit.


  • Become a Budgeting Boss:  Creating a budget is crucial for managing your finances. Nobody likes being told how much they can or can't spend or where they can spend it. The process works and you have to trust it. Tuck your ego away and tame your "wants" to get your footing on these debts. Track your income and expenses to identify areas where you can cut back and free up more money to put towards debt payments. There are many free budgeting apps and online tools available to help you get started. If you work with a seasoned advisor, this should be part of your planning if the intent is to achieve overall financial freedom.


  • Increase Your Income: Sounds like a no-brainer but chances are you can't just ask your boss for a raise and it happens the next week. Earning more money gives you more ammunition to fight your debt. Explore side hustles, and freelance opportunities as a way to supplement your income. Of course you can always ask for a raise at your current job, but be sure to have a plan and come in with factual evidence to prove your value. Even if you don't get the raise, you can always ask about other opportunities or the series of things that have to unravel in order for you to see some more greenback in your wallet. Every additional dollar earned can be used to pay down debt faster.


  • Debt Consolidation: Consider consolidating your debt into a single loan with a lower interest rate. This can simplify your payments and potentially save you money on interest. Not all options are created equally. You may want to look at different lenders and different types of loans for consolidation. Have equity in your home? It could be a good play to start with flexibility and a competitive rate. However, be sure to compare rates and terms carefully before consolidating.


  • Negotiate Lower Rates: If you've been a responsible borrower, consider contacting your creditors and negotiating a lower interest rate. Yes, this does actually work. I did it when I was in college and it can be more effective than you think. Explain your financial situation and willingness to make higher payments in exchange for a reduced rate.


  • Seek Professional Help: If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't hesitate to seek help from a credit counselor or financial advisor. We can provide personalized guidance and support to develop a debt repayment plan that works for you. There's no reason to struggle over this stuff. We're here to help.


Remember: Paying down debt is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay committed to your plan, celebrate your wins (big and small!), and don't be afraid to adjust your strategy as needed. By taking control of your finances and employing these strategies, you can overcome the challenge of high-interest rates and achieve financial freedom.


Celebrating with arms up in the air


Bonus Tip:  In addition to the strategies above, consider utilizing resources offered by non-profit organizations that specialize in financial counseling and debt management.


Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we'll delve deeper into budgeting tips and creating a financial plan that empowers you to reach your financial goals!


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