To properly manage debt, you must first know exactly what debts are outstanding. You need to know your account balances, numbers, minimum payments and interest rates. Before you create your budget and debt payoff schedule, you must look at all of your debts. You have one simple option for seeing all of your debts listed in one place.
Debt Payoff Plans
Paying the minimum payment due on your debt accounts can keep you in debt for years, or even decades. If you create a debt payoff plan, you can reduce the payoff length significantly. A debt payoff plan involves committing all of your available funds (after paying other bills) to your debt accounts. The very first step of taking on this payoff initiative is to review all of the debts so that you can start making decisions on how to get rid of those balances.
The most convenient place to view all of your debts is on your credit report. Your credit history commonly shows all of your open debt accounts and a total of balances owed. So retrieve your report from all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). You can download one copy of each report for free every year. Check the listing of open credit accounts to see all your debts in one place.
The one bit of data that a credit report doesn’t normally show is the interest rate. To find out the current rate, you have to contact each creditor listed on the report. Also, some debts may not show on your credit report, so it is important to sort through your previous month’s bills and agreements to identify all of your debts. Some creditors may not have reported the accounts to credit bureaus yet. Money you borrowed from a friend also counts as a debt, so remember to include that amount when you’re totaling your balances due.
Once you see all of your debts in one place, save the listing to a word processing or spreadsheet program for future reference. You should, at minimum, list your running balance, the interest rate and the monthly payment. List any special terms associated with each account, such as a promotional rate that expires soon. Order the accounts with the highest rate or the highest balance first so that you know which debts present the biggest challenge for paying off.