Beverly Harzog, an Atlanta-based consumer credit adviser for Lending Tree, knows there is a lot out there telling you how to get out of debt. So when she wrote her second book, she decided she would share with readers all there is to know about escaping credit debt.
“Credit card debt is specific in that it is toxic. I wanted to do a book where people could focus on that and get rid of that debt,” Harzog says.
In “The Debt Escape Plan,” (Career Press, $15.99) Harzog shares her own experiences with credit card debt. “I know how it feels. You feel like you are a loser. The last thing you need when you are feeling like this is someone wagging their finger at you,” she says.
Harzog doesn’t believe in a one-size fits all approach and she spent a lot of time looking for ways to fill in the gaps of information that already existed about getting out of credit debt. She also takes notice of different learning styles and how they can impact your ability to stick with certain budgeting or money management tools.
At the time when she was working her way out of debt, she knew nothing about money, she says. She only knew that she didn’t want to give up her daily coffee. “If you take a very puritanical approach to this, you are not going to succeed.
I am a self-started and self-motivated, but I couldn’t do that,” she says.
Back then she was young, single and childless. So she decided the best way out of debt was to get a new job. But since that may not work for everyone, here are some of her suggestions to increase your income and subsequently get out of debt:
Ask for a raise. Maybe you’ve spent the last few years keeping your head down and getting your work done, but now is the time to raise your hand and ask for more money. “If you haven’t had a raise in a long time, ask for one. You can cut out or reduce expenses, but if you can boost your income that will help you get out of debt quickly,” Harzog says. Be prepared to offer examples of things you have done (tangible or intangible). Do not say “I need more money.” Rehearse ahead of time. If you are successful, your next step is to take the after taxes part of your raise and put it toward your debt.
Sell stuff. You may also want to sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist, she says. Maybe you ran up your credit card debt by buying things you don’t need. Harzog says sell it. “It may not be ongoing, but if you get moving and send it out into the universe that you’re ready to make more money – you will stumble on opportunities,” she says.
Review your living situation. While it may not be possible for everyone, some people can consider downsizing their living situation. Consider scaling back on your rent by moving to a smaller place or rent out a room in your home.
Get a second job. Again, it may not work for everyone, but if you have the time and don’t have other after work commitments, you can take on a part-time job. Harzog had a friend with a wrecked credit score who took a job at a steakhouse and made awesome tips. “Don’t sacrifice all of your time with your family, but if it is something you can manage on the weekends, give it a try,” she says. Also consider a gig that allows you to telecommute — a second job doesn’t always have to mean clearing tables.
Refinance your car loans. Harzog sent one client with more than $50,000 in credit card debt to a talk to a credit counselor. She had a free consultation and they gave her enough information that she managed to get out of debt without hiring a debt manager. One tip she got was to refinance her car loan in order to save a couple of hundred a dollars month which she then put toward her debt.