Is this the year you’ve decided to get debt free? When you owe money, it’s commonly a source of negative emotions like embarrassment, shame, stress, and more. It’s not a topic people are eager to talk about, but it can quickly become a source of resentment and anxiety that impacts all aspects of your life. Not only does it harm your emotional well-being, but it delays your financial goals. The ongoing stress can even be bad for your health.

Now is the time to correct course and steer your way to debt freedom. It’s going to take a bit of work, and it’s going to take some patience. But with the right financial tips and tools, you can approach your debt smartly and find a strategy that will save you money and help you reach your goals sooner.

If you really want to meet your goals effectively, don’t skip out on all the tools, tips, and services available to you.

Debt Calculator

Credit card debt is expensive – just how much might alarm you. The true cost of debt depends on two things: the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) and the length of time it takes you to pay it back.

Every time you make a payment on your credit card balance, you pay the interest first. When you make minimum payments, very little of that money goes to the principal, bringing your total debt down. Making minimum payments can take years to get out of debt.

A debt calculator will show you everything. It will take your debt, APR, and the monthly payments you’ve budgeted for and tell you how long it will take you and how much it will cost. If the results are daunting, it’s time to explore more options.

Credit Counselling Services

Interest does a number on your ability to repay debt. So why not find debt relief in the form of reduced or zero interest? Most people avoid debt relief solutions like bankruptcy because they don’t want to lose assets or take the hit to their credit score. Debt consolidation loans can provide lower interest rates, but they require good credit.

An alternative way to find debt relief is a Debt Consolidation Program, provided by a certified Credit Counsellor with a non-profit credit counselling agency. A certified Credit Counsellor can help you reduce or eliminate interest rates and let you make a single monthly payment to go toward all your debts.

If you’ve been struggling with multiple bills and barely making progress, a Debt Consolidation Program is an effective tool to start changing things.

Budget Planner & Expense Tracker

The key to getting out of debt is maximizing the amount you can pay back every month. It really is a problem you can fix by throwing more money at it. Unless you can find a way to increase your income, the best way to find more money is to budget and reduce your expenses.

Start with a budget planner. It can be as simple as an Excel sheet or even a pen-and-paper tabulation of your income and monthly expenses. With a budget, you decide what you’re going to buy ahead of time. You can trim unnecessary expenses and stick to just the essentials.

Sticking to a budget is another matter. It can be a hassle remembering to take your receipts and add them all up at the end of the week. But by tracking your expenses, you can see in real time where you’ve spent too much and adjust course to make sure you still meet your goals at the end of the month when your payments are due. However, with so many purchases made with credit or Interac these days, there are plenty of expense tracking apps that will automatically update with debit transactions or that you can update manually on your phone. It’s an easier way to keep track of everything.

Tips for Rebuilding Credit

If you’ve missed payments or had accounts go to collections in the past, your credit score may be in rough shape. Even reaching your credit limit on one or multiple cards can hurt your score, making it harder to qualify for future loans or access better interest rates.

Now it’s time to rebuild your credit. First of all, once you’re done paying off the bill, don’t close credit cards unless they come with an annual fee. Most importantly, don’t close your oldest credit card, as the length of time you’ve had an account benefits your score. Going forward, the best thing you can do for yourself is to always pay the full balance on your card every month.

There are tools and strategies that can make debt freedom easier to achieve. Make the most of everything available to you.