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How to Best Manage Your Debt

By understanding the different types of debts and listing and prioritizing your debts, you can take control of your debt situation.

Debt is a common financial tool used by many to finance various expenses, investments, and purchases. However, managing debt effectively is crucial for maintaining financial well-being.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to manage your debt. But, first, let’s go over some debt basics.

Understanding Different Types of Debts

There are many different types of debt. Knowing these differences will help you in managing them and prioritizing payoff.

Secured Debt

Secured debt is backed by collateral, such as a home or car. If the borrower fails to repay the debt, the lender can seize the collateral to recover the outstanding balance. Examples include mortgages, auto loans, and secured personal loans.

Unsecured Debt

Unsecured debt is not backed by collateral. Lenders rely solely on the borrower’s creditworthiness and promise to repay the debt. It includes credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, and personal loans.

Revolving Debt

Revolving debt allows borrowers to borrow up to a predetermined credit limit, repay the debt, and borrow again as needed. Examples are credit cards, lines of credit, and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Installment Debt

Installment debt involves borrowing a fixed amount of money and repaying it in regular installments over a set period. It includes mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and personal loans.


How to List Your Debts Properly

Step 1: Gather Statements

Collect statements or documentation for each debt, including the creditor’s name, outstanding balance, interest rate, minimum payment, and due date.

Step 2: Organize Information

Create a spreadsheet or list to track all your debts, categorizing them by type (e.g., credit cards, loans) and prioritizing them based on interest rates or balances. Then, calculate the total amount owed by adding up all outstanding balances.

TypeCreditor NameOutstanding Balance ($)Interest Rate (%)Minimum Payment ($)Due Date
Mortgage123 Bank$200,0005.25$15501st of Month
Credit CardsABC Bank$5,00018.99$15015th of Month
Credit CardsXYZ Credit Card$2,50024.99$10010th of Month
LoansStudent Loan$15,0005.00$20025th of Month
Total222,500$2000

Step 3: Assess Your Debt Situation

Calculate your debt-to-income ratio to assess your overall debt burden relative to your income. Divide your total monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

Let’s say your gross monthly income is $6,000.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNT ($)
Total Monthly Debt Payments$2,000
Gross Monthly Income$6,000
Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio33.33%

Step 4: Develop a Repayment Plan

Establish specific, measurable goals (SMART financial goals) for debt repayment, such as paying off a certain amount by a target date or reducing high-interest debts first.

  1. Use debt repayment strategies: Explore debt repayment strategies such as the debt avalanche method (paying off debts with the highest interest rates first) or the debt snowball method (paying off debts with the smallest balances first). Learn more here.
  2. Track your money: Create a budget that allocates funds for debt repayment, essential expenses, savings, and discretionary spending.
  3. Negotiate lower interest rates: Contact lenders and negotiate lower interest rates, especially if you have a good payment history or improved credit score.
  4. Consider balance transfer or refinancing: Explore options such as balance transfers or loan refinancing to consolidate debts and secure lower interest rates.
  5. Set aside savings: Establish an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses and financial emergencies, reducing the need to rely on credit cards or loans.
  6. Seek professional assistance if needed: Consider working with a nonprofit credit counseling agency to develop a customized debt management plan.

Learn the exact steps to achieve debt freedom.

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of phroogal.com and thesmilelifestyle.com. His purpose to help others live their best lives through experiential and purposeful living. Jason is also a certified yoga teacher and breathwork specialist and has traveled to over 40 countries.

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