One of the first steps in creating a debt management strategy for your household is to know what kind of problem you are dealing with. Your debts probably include a few different types of loans or credit accounts, ranging from a mortgage to student loans, car loans, personal loans, home equity loans, credit cards, medical bills, accounts in collection, retail store credit lines, loans from family members or even payday loans. Adding up all of your debts can be sobering, but it will help you develop a repayment strategy that is financially best for you.
Gather all of your bills from the past month. If you have online billing for any of your debts, sign into the accounts online to obtain information from your most recent bill.
Look up the remaining balance listed on each of the bills. This also may be listed as “amount owed” or “principal balance” in some cases. Subtract the amount of the payment you made on that bill, if you have already sent in your payment for the month.
Write down the name of each debt and the amount owed on a piece of paper.
Obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus through the Annual Credit Report website. If you have already received your free report this year, you will have to pay for the report.
Compare the amounts owed on each of the accounts listed on your credit report to the list you made from your bills. Some of the amounts may be different if your lenders have not yet updated the credit bureau on your payments or charges from the current month. If the amounts are radically different and you do not know why, call your lender and ask for an explanation of the discrepancy between your bill and your credit report.
Identify any accounts listed on your credit report that you did not already have on your list. If you are aware of the account, find the current bill by looking through your household paperwork or logging into the online account. If you were not aware of the account, look up the lender’s phone number and call to find out what the debt is from and what the current amount owed is.
Add up the total amounts owed from all of the debts on your list. This is how much you are in debt.
If you find a debt on your credit report that does not belong to you, you may be a victim of identity theft. Visit the Federal Trade Commission website on identity theft to find out what steps to take to remove this account from your credit report.