The third-quarter report on US household debt and credit, made available by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the end of 2018 shows that the numbers have grown higher than the ones registered 10 years ago. With $219 billion added to the total, it had reached $13.51 trillion and marked the 17th consecutive quarter of expansion, standing 21.2% above the post-crisis low recorded in mid-2013. While high levels of indebtedness in a nation are typically regarded with concern, it is worth taking into consideration the fact that they could be sending positive signals as well – an increase in household borrowing is indicative of confidence about the future. Moreover, the ability of US consumers to repay their obligations has improved significantly since the 2008 financial crisis due to low interest rates and sustained economic growth, as highlighted in a report by Moody’s Investors Service. Nevertheless, many households struggle to manage their debt burden, typically having to deal with mortgage, credit card, student, auto, and personal loans all at once, comments financial expert Tony Amaradio, adding that the right choice of repayment strategy can significantly lighten the load and ultimately eliminate liabilities.
There are several well-tested methods for dealing with financial obligations, and while most borrowers are probably aware of them, they find it difficult to select the one that best aligns with their goals. The so-called snowball and avalanche strategies are perhaps the best-known options, the first factoring in the amount to be repaid and the second focusing on interest rates, with payments prioritized on the basis of these parameters. With the snowball approach, borrowers start by eliminating the lowest balance and proceed upward, while the avalanche method involves the repayment of debt with the highest interest rate first and moving down the ladder. With credit card loans, in particular, a combination of the two can be implemented, this hybrid approach having certain benefits from a psychological point of view: as a study by the Harvard Business Review and HelloWallet found, morale is a critical motivator in debt repayment. Households dealing with multiple loans can benefit from a debt consolidation strategy, which not only simplifies matters but can reduce the interest rate for those with a good credit score.
While borrowers have a number of options, it can prove difficult to select the right one, especially since people are motivated by different things, Tony Amaradio points out. The snowball strategy would be suitable for those who are psychologically rewarded by immediate progress, while the avalanche method is for people concerned about costs or dealing with a large amount of high-interest debt. The hybrid approach offers the desired “quick win” but can also lead to substantial savings, whereas debt consolidation may not be possible for people with an impaired credit history. Since multiple factors come into play, the best course of action is to seek the advice of an expert debt consultant, who can evaluate all aspects of a given financial situation and recommend the optimal strategy.
Financial expert and dedicated philanthropist Tony Amaradio is the founder and chief strategist of Select Portfolio Management Inc and Select Money Management Inc, where he employs an innovative integrated strategy to maximize results for clients. Earning his BBA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Detroit, Amaradio commenced his career in the financial services industry. Passionate supporters of charitable causes, he and his wife Carin are often invited to speak at events hosted by non-profit organizations, many of which rely on his expertise to optimize their capacities and thus improve their effectiveness.
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