You can find all your debts by checking your bank statements, checking your credit card transactions, and reviewing your credit reports. Knowing how much debt you have is critical for improving your financial health.
The average American has $155,000 in debt.1 If you’re on a journey towards improving your credit, the first step is to find out all of your installment loans, medical debt, and credit balances. Once you know how much debt you owe, you can work toward curating a payment plan that works for your personal budget and lifestyle.
Common Types of Debt
Some of the most common types of personal debt are:
|Type of Debt||Description||Common Sources or Causes|
|Mortgage||Loans taken out to buy real estate or property.||Home purchases.|
|Student Loan||Debt acquired to pay for higher education tuition, fees, and related expenses.||College or university education.|
|Credit Card Debt||Revolving debt resulting from purchases made using credit cards.||Everyday purchases, emergencies, large expenses.|
|Auto Loan||Loans specifically used to purchase vehicles.||Buying new or used cars.|
|Personal Loan||Unsecured loans that aren’t tied to a specific purpose.||Home renovations, vacations, weddings, or unexpected expenses.|
|Medical Debt||Debt resulting from medical procedures, treatments, or emergencies that aren’t covered by insurance.||Hospital stays, surgeries, treatments.|
|Payday Loan||Short-term, high-interest loans meant to be repaid by the borrower’s next paycheck.||Immediate financial needs before the next paycheck.|
|Home Equity Loan||A type of loan where the borrower uses the equity of their home as collateral.||Home improvements, debt consolidation.|
|Business Loan||Loans specifically meant for business purposes.||Starting a business, business expansion, equipment purchase.|
|Tax Debt||Debt owed to governmental bodies due to unpaid taxes.||Unpaid income taxes, property taxes.|
How To Find My Outstanding Debts
To get an accurate depiction of how much debt you currently owe, you may try the following:
- Check bank statements and charges
- Review credit card statements and charges
- Check credit reports
- Use a budgeting app
Review Your Monthly Bank and Credit Card Billing Statements
The easiest way to review how you spend your money is to check your bank account and credit card statements. Your bank account statement contains all information regarding any automatic withdrawals and debit transactions from your checking and savings accounts. Your credit card statement contains all the information about any credit transactions or recurring payments you have connected to your card.
Try a Budgeting App
Instead of going through bills and statements on your own, you can also utilize the help of a budgeting app. These applications scan your financial statements and identify the subscriptions and automatic payments you have set up, what the current balance on your various online loans are, and give you a consolidated report of how you spend your money.
These apps can even point out services you are currently paying for but are not necessarily using all the time, which can help you cut back on unnecessary spending. While these apps can be extremely helpful, keep in mind that they are paid services.
Some popular budgeting apps you may consider are:
Check Your Free Credit Reports From One of the Three Major Credit Bureaus
You can also check your credit reports to view the various creditors you have debt with. A creditor, also called a lender, is a financial institution that lends money. Since your credit report is the official record of your credit history, it will contain all the information on when and where you spent or requested to spend money. Credit reports may even have more detailed information than your bank and credit card statements.
What Is a Credit Report?
A credit report is a collection of data regarding your various financial habits and behaviors. This data is collected by a financial reporting agency, also known as a credit bureau. The three major credit reporting agencies are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
Your credit report lists data for the following financial categories:
- Payment history
- Length of credit history
- Credit mix
- Hard credit checks
- Amount of debt owed
You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from the major credit bureaus, or you can utilize a free service to see your unofficial report whenever you like. Visit the website of your bank or credit card issuer to see an unofficial credit report. Keep in mind that while these reports are not from one of the three main credit bureaus, they will still contain virtually the same information.
What Happens When You Don’t Pay Off Debt?
Failing to pay off debt can have detrimental consequences on your credit reports and overall financial health. Missing just one debt payment can negatively affect your credit score for up to seven years! Furthermore, if you keep missing payments, your debts will eventually fall into default. When you default on a loan, your debt is sent to debt collection agencies, who will then set up a collection account in your name.
A collection agency is a type of financial institution that purchases delinquent debts from an original creditor. The debt collector works by contacting the delinquent debtor to get them to pay back their debts. If you still refuse to pay back your debts once they are sent to a collections agency, the next step may be to file bankruptcy.
Filing for bankruptcy is a formal declaration stating that you no longer have money to pay off your debts and other financial responsibilities. Bankruptcy is a last resort option you should not turn to unless there are absolutely no other options available when it comes to paying off your debts.
Debt Settlement vs. Debt Consolidation When You Owe Money
If your debt has been sent to a debt collector, you may be wondering if debt settlement or debt consolidation is your best option.
Debt settlement is when you work with a debt settlement company and negotiate a payoff amount with your various creditors. Settling debt may help you save money, but it can also have quite a negative effect on your credit score.
Debt consolidation is taking various existing debts and combining them all into one loan. Consolidating debt may take longer than debt settlement, but it may also have a much more positive effect on your credit score.
Ways To Pay off Debts
Below are a few ways you can work towards paying off your debt.
Debt Consolidation Loan
One of the fastest ways to get any old debts under control is to acquire a debt consolidation loan. There are many unsecured loans designed to help consumers pay off existing debt while also helping them build their credit scores. For example, these credit builder loans just might be the perfect financial solution you’ve been looking for!
However, before you commit to a loan, do a bit of research first. There are some lenders, like payday loan organizations, who claim to be convenient, fast cash options. However, payday loans just end up sticking consumers with high-interest rates and inconvenient terms.
Create a Payment Plan
If you want to pay off your debts individually instead of consolidating them into one loan, you may want to come up with a monthly or yearly budget plan. To create the best payment plan, first, calculate your gross monthly income. Once you have this amount, you can then determine how much extra money you can put towards your debt each week or each month.
Get an Additional Income Stream
What if you’ve calculated your gross monthly income and find that it is not enough to pay back debt, it may be time to acquire another stream of income. You can get more income by getting an additional job or selling items you no longer use around your home. If you have the time and the determination, you may want to do both!
Tips for Paying off Debt as Quickly as Possible
After you find out how much debt you owe, it is time to work towards getting that amount down. Check out the tips below for speeding up the process when it comes to paying off your debt.
Pay More Than Minimum Monthly Amount Due
Paying just $50 or $100 more than your minimum payment due can help you pay off debt months, if not years, sooner than your original expected payoff date.
Avoid Applying for New Credit
Do your best not to acquire more debt when trying to pay off your balances. If you need money, try dipping into your savings instead of accumulating more credit card debt. These times may also be a good chance to assess your wants vs. needs.
Try Not To Use Credit Cards
While you certainly don’t want to apply for new credit cards, it may also be a good idea to stop spending the credit you currently have as well. To make this goal more accessible, try giving yourself a money savings challenge. For example, you could try the 100 envelope challenge and save 5000.
FAQs About Paying Debt
Your credit report is a detailed record of your credit history, including your debt accounts, payment history, and more. On the other hand, a credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness based on the information in your credit report.
Debt collectors are agencies or individuals that specialize in collecting debts on behalf of the original lenders. If you fail to make debt payments, your original lender might sell your debt to a debt collector, who will then attempt to recover the debt you owe.
Personal loans can be a viable option to consolidate multiple credit card balances into a single monthly payment, often with a lower interest rate. However, it’s essential to compare the terms, interest rates, and fees before deciding.
A nonprofit credit counseling agency offers guidance on managing your debts and finances. A credit counselor from the agency can help you set up a budget, offer advice on handling debts, and might even negotiate with creditors for better repayment terms.
A credit counselor can provide expert advice on managing your finances, help you create a debt management plan, and negotiate with creditors to reduce interest rates or waive fees, making it easier for you to pay off the debt you owe.
It’s crucial to read the terms and conditions of your debt accounts carefully. Some debts, especially credit cards, might have variable interest rates that can change. Stay informed, make timely payments, and consider fixed-rate personal loans if you’re concerned about fluctuating rates.
First, request a written validation notice detailing the debt from the debt collector. If you believe there’s an error, you can dispute it. Always keep records of your debt payments and communicate in writing to have a clear record of your interactions.
CreditNinja: The Bottom Line on How To Find Your Debts
It’s critical to know all your debts in order to avoid late payments and calls from a debt collection agency. At CreditNinja, we understand the value of financial literacy. Check out the CreditNinja Dojo for accurate and helpful information on how to qualify for a personal loan, the pros and cons of a cosigner loan, and much more!