It’s no secret that America runs on debt. The amount of outstanding consumer debt as of August 2015 stood at $3.25 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. And according to a 2012 Experian report, Baby Boomers’ average total debt was $101,951, and those over 66 had a total debt of $38,043.
Even if your debt load is less than the average, it can still feel overwhelming, especially if you’re on fixed income. But help is here. The strategies below can get you on the road to being debt-free fast.
1. Credit card balances
A great way to increase your monthly payments is by transferring your balance to a card with a lower interest rate (so more of your money goes toward your actual balance rather than the interest charges).
Unlike other kinds of debt like from credit cards or a carloan, mortgage debt is not necessarily bad to have sinceyou get a tax deduction on the interest you pay andhopefully will one day be able to sell your house at a profit. Of course refinancing into a lower rate can be a good way topay off your mortgage faster, but pay attention to the loanterm—the shorter it is, the more you save.
3. Hospital/medical bills
Before you even try to pay your bill, check to make sure the fees are correct andreasonable. Always ask for an itemized bill, and challenge anything that doesn’t look right.
4. Student loans
If you’re among the growing number of seniors with federal student loans—student loan debt for seniors rose from $2.8 billion in 2005 to $18.2 billion in 2013, according to the Government Accountability Office—asking for a repayment plan that is income-based could make things more manageable (though you may pay more in total than you would with a standard 10-year repayment plan).