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Chances are you want to avoid bankruptcy at all cost. The best way to do that is to learn to effectively manage your debt. Here are 6 smart ways to help you do that:

Prioritize Payoffs 

Lindsay Konsko, consumer credit specialist at, says it makes sense for consumers to focus on paying down the credit card that has the highest interest rate. You can do this while making minimum payments on the other debts you owe.  “Most people will save paying off the highest interest rate first,” she says, though “it’s a judgment call on the consumer’s part.”

Debt Like Diet

“Paying off debt is like getting in shape and losing weight,” says Ben Barzideh, financial adviser at Piershale Financial Group. Both debts and diet require discipline as well as little treats along the way. “Make a to-do list, track your monthly inflows and outflows just like calories,” Barzideh says. And just like a diet, make sure your debt repayment plan is realistic. You don’t want to set impossible goals – it will just make it easier to give up your plan.

Don’t Miss Payments

Khalfani Cox owed $100,000 on credit cards in 2001. But she managed to pay it all off in three years. She had one advantage. “I hadn’t missed a payment in 20-something years,” she says. Because of this track record she was able to negotiate her interest rates, in one instance she was able to cut an interest rate to 4.9% from 16%. “A bank would rather get some interest from you than get 0% by [you] defaulting,” she says.

Understand “Debt Management” and “Debt Settlement”

Know the difference between a “debt management” organization – which includes non-profit organizations that are members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, and a “debt settlement” company – usually for-profit companies.

Student Loans and Possible Debt Forgiveness

Student loan debtors who work in public service, for the government or a non-profit, or who want such a job, should look into eligibility for debt forgiveness. Under the government’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, borrowers working in public service jobs may be able to qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of Direct Loans if they have made 120 qualifying payments on those loans.

Refinance Debt

Try to consolidate your loans – but only if you can consolidate at a lower interest rate.

All of these tips can help you pay down your debt, and help you avoid having to research bankruptcy as an option to clear your debts.

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