Are you terminally underwater? Do you find that frequently there's more month left at the end of the paycheck? You may be able to adopt the same strategies used by debt collectors (or those in the "debt recovery" industry, as they more gingerly describe themselves) to cure your debt woes.
In a recent editorial for industry newsletter CollectionIndustry.com, a trainer conceded that "Debt Has a Human Face" (registration required) and that collectors need to recognize the feelings behind the facts. He identifies three main reactions by those carrying the burden of debt: panic, sadness, and resignation. They result in people avoiding the situation, denying the problem, then becoming angry or tackling the problem logically.
"The best collectors are firm, realistic, fair and tuned into both facts and feelings," says Barry Leckenby, Training and Quality Analyst with Australia's third-largest bank, the ANZ.
Firm, realistic, and fair are great starting points for a Fool-proof debt attack plan, in our opinion.
Be Firm: Decide today to turn your financial wagon to the high road. Then resolve to make a difference with every resource that you have -- whether that's directing more dollars to pay down the debt, or taking one evening to negotiate a lower interest rate with your lender.
Be Realistic: We know you're raring to begin your debt destruction plan. But don't get so aggressive that you end up in a worse spot than where you started. Make a realistic debt repayment plan, then review when necessary. The reality is that you will probably have to adjust your plan over time.
Be Fair: There's a difference between "wants" and "needs." Be fair to your future self by learning the difference. Identify what got you into debt in the first place, and vow to avoid those potholes in the future.
And finally, don't ignore the feelings that debt brings on. Celebrate your successes and learn from any shortcomings. Need a support group of like-minded folks? Come on over to our Consumer Credit/Credit Cards discussion board for sound guidance and encouragement.