How to prioritize which debts to pay, part 1

How to prioritize which debts to pay, part 1

As debts and personal finances spiral out of control, it is easy to feel like you cannot prevent any of the mail and incessant phone calls. Don’t let those feelings of despair get you down. Your debt may seem insurmountable but it isn’t. All it takes is a measured, logical approach to it. Once you have a plan, you can begin paying it down and organizing it. Once you are on that path, then you can determine if bankruptcy is the right choice. Here are a few steps on how to do just that.

All of those bills may seem overwhelming but it is important to separate them into what is necessary and what isn’t. Something is necessary if you need it to live or work. So things like your car, mortgage, food and utilities are all necessary. If the bills are piling up then consider slashing your cable, Netflix account or food delivery service.

Additionally, things like cars and mortgages generally have lower interest rates so focus on setting aside money to make the minimum payments while you gather up your resources to pay down more dangerous and toxic debt. A common strategy to ensure that you set aside money to pay these necessities is a separate savings account. You put money into this account with every paycheck and only use it to pay the necessities.

Second, you need to pay your legal obligations. These are things that you cannot avoid like child support and tax payments. If you don’t make these payments, the consequences can be severe and include liens on your property and garnishment of your wages.

Divorce and bankruptcy, unfortunately, are two difficult events that go hand-in-hand far more often than they should. Divorce is an expensive and messy endeavor that can wreck personal finances. But you cannot let it cause you to ignore your financial obligations. If your creditors are unwilling to negotiate your debt payments, you may want to speak to a lawyer to explore other options. Bankruptcy is a viable choice depending on your situation. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Sit down with a professional and go over the pros and cons, then make your decision.

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