Take charge of debt and achieve financial stability by taking these proactive steps
PORTLAND, Ore., August 15, 2023— The New York Federal Reserve report released this month revealed an uptick in U.S. household debt to $17.06 trillion. Credit card balances also increased by $45 billion between April 1 to June 30, reaching a record-setting $1.03 trillion.
People struggling with debt may have more options than they realize. That’s why OnPoint Community Credit Union has released five ways to help people in Oregon and Southwest Washington manage their debt and pave the way toward financial stability.
“Today’s report illustrates what we all know to be true: high interest rates and inflation are taking a big bite out of monthly budgets,” said Chris Folkerts, Consumer Lending Manager, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “But there is good news. You can take steps today to get back on track toward your financial goals.”
OnPoint recommends these five steps to manage and lower debt:
1. Tighten your budget where you can. Inventory subscriptions and memberships and cancel the ones you no longer need. Canceling these accounts can save on average $25 every month. Meal plan to save on groceries, takeout orders and restaurant tabs. Consumers spend $3,459 annually on food away from home, which comes out to about $67 per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Adjust your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling costs by turning your thermostat back seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day.
Calculate how much you will save after you tighten in these areas and put that amount into your repayment plan.
2. Pay off debt with an avalanche, not a snowball. Two popular strategies of debt repayment are the snowball and avalanche methods. The snowball method calls for paying down your smallest debt first and working your way up to the largest, providing a sense of achievement as you work your way up the list.
But in a high interest rate environment, OnPoint recommends the avalanche method. Tackling debts with the highest rate first gets rid of your most expensive debt sooner and reduces the amount you are paying in interest over time.
3. Simplify repayment by consolidating debt into a single loan. Check with your financial institution if you can refinance your accounts that have higher rates. Consider combining all your debts into a single loan to simplify repayment. Both approaches may provide a lower monthly payment and lower interest rate, saving you money every month. Talk to your financial institution about what debt restructuring options they offer.
For example, OnPoint offers a service called GreenPath Financial Wellness, which provides confidential and complimentary one-on-one financial counseling, debt management services and financial education resources.
4. Review your credit report. In 2022, 75% of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were about incorrect information on credit reports. Take the time to pull your credit report, review the information and dispute any errors that could affect your ability to borrow money.
You can look at your credit reports once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. Check for inaccuracies such as incorrect personal information, accounts you don’t recognize, closed accounts that appear open and duplicate listings of debts.
Contact the credit bureau that listed the mistake by detailing the issue in writing and including copies of items like bills or statements to help make your case.
5. Talk to a credentialed financial advisor at no cost. You don’t have to tackle debt on your own. Meet with a certified financial advisor to chart a path and pay down debt. Financial advisors can help you map out the balances and interest rates on your credit card, personal loans, student loans, mortgages and any other debts. They can also provide guidance based on your unique situation to pay down debt faster and cheaper.
OnPoint has a team of financial advisors who can help you develop a personalized and sound financial plan.
“Reducing debt takes time but the sooner you get started, the faster you will see light at the end of the tunnel,” continued Folkerts.
Visit any of OnPoint’s 56 branch locations today to meet a financial advisor or GreenPath counselor to get started.
ABOUT ONPOINT COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION
OnPoint Community Credit Union is the largest credit union in Oregon, serving over 522,000 members and with assets of $8.7 billion. Founded in 1932, OnPoint Community Credit Union’s membership is available to anyone who lives or works in one of 28 Oregon counties (Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler and Yamhill) and two Washington counties (Skamania and Clark) and their immediate family members. OnPoint Community Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). More information is available at www.onpointcu.com or 503-228-7077 or 800-527-3932.
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