Don't Let Debt Delay Your Life Milestones

Most of us have some idea of how we want our lives to go. Although the specific goals and dreams differ, the feeling of wanting to achieve them is universal. One of the most frustrating aspects of debt is that it can cause us to delay those life milestones we have to achieve: buying a home, moving to a new city, getting married, having children, making career changes, getting an education, retiring and many more.

How Debt Delays Milestones

A recent survey reveals exactly the way in which millennials today believe their debts will delay life milestones like:
  • Buying a home (47 percent)
  • Saving for retirement (40 percent)
  • Moving out of their parents’ home (31 percent)
  • Getting married/having a civil ceremony (21 percent)
  • Having children (21 percent)
Of course, debt has the capability of delaying milestones for people in any stage of life — like a 60-year-old worker scratching their head over how they’ll retire when they have so much debt to deal with.

Put simply: Debt tends to be expensive. Anyone caught in the cycle of struggling to make payments while interest accrues in the background knows this to be true. And, the more money we throw toward debt repayment, the less we have to save and invest. This is where the delayed milestones come in; people put off doing what they want to do while getting their financial footing. If this continues for too long, it may cause them to miss out on certain milestones altogether.

Solutions for Addressing Your Debt

Taking a proactive approach to eliminating your debts can help you regain your financial footing before you’ve bypassed important milestones. Instead of thinking you’ll tackle your debt someday in the future, explore how you can start chipping away at it starting right now.

The strategies you choose to pursue will depend on what kinds of debts you’re carrying and the size of those balances. If you’re struggling with unsecured debt — like credit cards, medical expenses or personal loans — you may be a candidate for strategies like settlement and consolidation through an organization like Freedom Financial Network. Consolidation aims to streamline multiple high-interest payment into a single lower-interest one. Settlement aims to get creditors to accept a lesser amount through negotiation. As with any debt relief strategy, there are pros and cons to consider before committing, as it typically takes at least a few years to complete settlement, consolidation or a combination of the two.

Student loans will require a different approach. Making extra payments can help you become debt-free faster and pay less in interest. As NerdWallet writes, paying an extra $100 per month toward a $10,000 balance with a 4.5 percent interest rate could help you repay your student loans in less than five years rather than 10. A note: You may have to tell your loan provider to apply these extra payments to your current balance rather than applying them to next month’s payment.

Refinancing your current debts is another tactic meant to make interest payments more manageable. You may be able to refinance your credit card rates by transferring your existing balance to a new card with an annual percentage rate of zero. You may be able to refinance your mortgage or student loans, too.

If you’re unsure where to start with your debt, consider meeting with a credit counselor at a not-for-profit agency. These professionals can give you free advice on personal finance and point you in the direction of further resources.

Want to avoid letting debt delay your life milestones? Today is the day to start planning how you’ll proactively address it — leaving you free to pursue your goals without so much financial baggage.

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