Your 1st Step to Financial Freedom: Putting All of Your Debts in Writing

Today you’re going to write down everything you owe your creditors. That’s right, everything— from your student loans, to mortgages, to credit card debt, medical bills, auto loans, etc. On a piece of paper, make a complete list of your obligations and here’s what you should write or type out on the sheet: Include the name and phone number of each creditor, your account number, the interest rate you pay, the total balance due, and the minimum monthly payment.

Why Torture Yourself Listing All Your Bills? You need this information in black and white to get a realistic picture of where you are. This info will also help you later when it’s time to negotiate with creditors or collection agencies. Again, write down everything that you owe, even including credit cards that might have only $100 on them. Don’t make the mistake of leaving those “small” bills out because “Oh, I’m going to pay that one off this month anyway.” Just write down everything you actually owe as of today.

Many people have a rough idea about how much they owe their creditors. But there’s no substitute for having true, accurate numbers - not guesstimates. To fill in the proper figures on your written sheet, or your computer spreadsheet, you’ll have to go find your most recent statements and invoices from your creditors. Take as much time as you need today to collect all this data. It’s a crucial step in you getting your finances together.

It’s also a good idea to call the companies you owe and ask for the latest information about your debt, especially if you’re looking at statements that are more than a month old. Even if the statements are current, you should call your creditors because some of the information on those statements may have changed. For instance, you may have charged additional items since the closing date on your credit card statement, so now your debt is actually greater than your current statement indicates. Also, you may have had a teaser rate or a lower interest rate in the past, and maybe that interest rate has now jumped. Whatever the case, you need to have the most accurate information that is currently available.

A Wake-Up Call: How Much Do You Owe? The next step is for you to add up all your debts. For some of you, seeing your total debt in black and white may be a scary thing: a wake up call to how deeply you are in financial bondage. For others, seeing your total debt may offer relief: perhaps you don’t owe as much as you feared. Whatever the situation, don’t panic. Remember, you’re on the path to financial freedom now and if your goal is to get to “Zero Debt” status, keep plugging along - it will happen, and sooner than you think!

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