Truly Understanding Your Debt
If you have a lot of debt, you may find it difficult to deal with it all. In fact, one problem that many people have is that they don’t know exactly how much they owe and who they owe it to. Because of this, they’re also not entirely aware of how long it will take them to repay their debt, how much interest they are paying, and several other aspects of their debt. This makes coming up with a plan difficult.
Knowing as much as possible about your debt is important. The more you know, and the more information you have, and this makes it easier to come up with a strategy for reducing your debt and ultimately living debt free. Unfortunately, many financial institutions and creditors do not make it easy to find out all of the information you need. Plus, even when they do provide the information, they sometimes do so in a manner that isn’t completely clear and easy to understand.
While it’s easy to lose track of how much you owe, it’s important to keep as much track of your debt as possible. Here are some tips for figuring out how much you owe and who you owe it to.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
Everyone who has borrowed money in Canada or applied for a credit card has a credit report. Your credit report lists any loan that you have taken out in the last six years. Public record items, such as civil claim judgments and tax liens, will also be listed on your credit report.
You can get a free copy of your credit report mailed to you by requesting it from the major credit bureaus in Canada: TransUnion and Equifax. If you want an online report, you will need to pay.
Note that your credit report will only include information that is reported to the credit bureaus. Sometimes, a lender may not report an account to a credit bureau right away. Also, some lenders will only report to one credit bureau, so the information that TransUnion has may be different from the information held by Equifax.
However, getting a copy of your credit report is a good start and it can help you find out who you owe money to. This is a great start to getting control of your debt situation.
Review your Credit Card Statements and Bills
Go through all of your credit card statements and see how much you currently owe. You may be able to do this online. It’s important that you check your statements, even if you have also received a copy of your credit report. This is because, even if your credit report lists your outstanding balances, this information could be out-of-date. Getting the information straight from the credit card company will give you the most up-to-date information.
You’ll also want to check your cable bills, phone bills, car loans, etc. to see how much you owe. If you don’t have this information available, contact the creditors and ask them for updated details on your account.
Call Your Creditors
Even if you already have up-to-date information on each of your debts, you may still want to call your creditors to find out more details. However, contacting your creditors is very important if you don’t know how much you owe, or if you see a debt on your credit report that you don’t recognize.
It may be difficult to get the information you’re looking for from some creditors, but keep digging. Don’t let them brush you off easily.
Check for Errors
There are several places where there could be errors when it comes to your debts. One is in your credit report. Yes, it’s certainly possible that the information in your credit report could be wrong. Sometimes information is entered incorrectly or changes are not represented accurately. If you do find errors in your report, it’s important that you correct them by contacting the credit bureau.
There could also be errors with your creditors themselves. For example, you may have made a payment that is not reflected accurately on your account. You’ll likely have to show the creditor proof that you made the payment for them to make the change on their end.
The possibility of errors existing is another reason why it’s so important to keep track of your debt.
Make a Plan
Once you know how much you owe, and who you owe it to, it’s time to make a plan for reducing your debt. Here are some tips on creating a budget and paying down your debt that could help you.