Businessmen and businesswomen can attest to the truth of this statement by Ogden Nash, a 20th-century American poet:
Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.
Have you ever been psyched about the latest gadget, got it, and then wished you’d simply read about it rather than own it? People buy selfie hair brushes to never miss a pose or wear smart belts that adjust when they eat too much. In very little time, they wish they’d bypassed these trendy gadgets.
If you do make purchases that you pay for later, it’s important to keep your debt management skills honed. Unless you know how to manage debt, you continually chase down ways to keep your finances solvent. This post helps you understand the importance of debt management and provides tips so you don’t become a servant to overwhelming debt.
What is debt management?
A strategy to have enough money to pay your bills on time and vow to never overspend is the definition of debt management. When you use debt management strategies:
- You aren’t frantic or stressed when it comes to your finances.
- You know how to keep debt under control.
- And if you do have debt, you use it to move your business forward without causing cash flow to plummet.
Is debt management a good idea?
If you’re a parent, do you let your kids play in the middle of a roundabout or ask a stranger on the street to care for them? Of course, you don’t.
You approach debt management the same way. You don’t spend more money than you can repay because it’s impossible to thrive when debt drags you down.
When you fail to manage debt, you can ruin your credit, alter your suppliers’ view of your business’s reputation, and taint your character among your customers and business peers.
10 debt management tips
To keep debt from spiraling out of control, use these tips to stay on top of your finances.
1. Know what you owe
If you’re surrounded by unpaid debts, you may lose track of what you owe. Make a list of all your debts, the total amount owed, when they’re due, the interest rates you’re paying, and other details. It’s important to have a list of the creditors you owe so you have a summary of your total debt in one convenient place.
2. Schedule payments
Using a wall calendar or an accounting software system, make sure you make minimum payments a week before the due date and pay more to reduce debt quicker. That way, creditors don’t submit late fees and missed payments to the three major credit bureaus. It’s even better to schedule automated payments as long as you have money to cover them.
3. Implement payment strategies
Decide which debts to pay off first. Namely, start by paying off debts with the highest interest rates, like payday loans. Another approach is to pay off smaller debts first and then graduate to the next smallest debt.
4. Plan to save
If unexpected expenses crop up (and they will), where will you get the money to pay for them? Good financial planning involves putting away a nest egg to use for emergencies and retirement.
5. Trim your budget
People know exactly what you mean when you say, “I’m trimming the fat” from my budget. You identify spending areas where you waste money.
For example, you could buy items in bulk (light bulbs, batteries, toilet paper) and save money. If you don’t have a budget, make sure you create one. Complete a spreadsheet of the purchases you made in the last six months making sure to categorize what you spend according to each budget item. You’ll see right away where you overspend.
6. Don’t close paid-off credit card accounts
It makes perfect sense to close accounts that have zero balances. After all, you feel like wiping the slate clean because you’re starting fresh. Closing accounts you no longer use can hurt your credit score because you reduce your available credit.
When you pay off the balances, you leave a positive credit history that lenders like to see when evaluating your creditworthiness. If you do decide to close some of the accounts, keep ones you’ve had the longest with the highest credit limits.
7. Bring in part-time income
Do you have a skill or have access to specialized equipment you aren’t using? Maybe you could rent that equipment by the hour or help someone improve their business management skills. These earnings should go toward debt but as a reward treat yourself to an ice cream cone or a movie out.
8. Don’t take on new debt
When you tighten up on spending, you may find ways so you don’t miss out on having fun. When you increase the number of accounts with balances, you can lower your credit score. A rule of thumb to abide by is to keep balances on revolving accounts at less than 30% of your available credit. Then, pay them off every 30 days.
9. Get help when you need it
10. Plan to stay out of debt
After you’ve worked hard to eliminate debt, you don’t want to get back into the same situation. Along with an emergency and retirement fund, keep enough money to cover at least six months of business expenses. You’ll be in a better position to keep from borrowing money until a crisis subsides.
How Camino Financial can help with debt management
Camino Financial realizes that monitoring debt is one of the hardest tasks business owners face.
To keep moving forward, you need to spend money. However, if you don’t have the funds to cover purchases and fail to review your debt to income ratio, you may start to struggle financially. As Ogden Nash said, paying off debt is never a walk in the park.
To keep your business finances on a steady course, consider getting a small business loan. Camino Financial offers microloans and small business loans to help our members get past financial hurdles.
Our loans are structured to help you gain quick access to capital and have fewer requirements than traditional banks. To support our motto, “No Business Left Behind”, Camino Financial loans put limited restrictions on how you can use the funds.