Payment plans to match your attitude

No single debt-reduction method works for everyone.

In their latest book, "Slash Your Debt," Gerri Detweiler, Marc Eisenson, and Nancy Castleman identify four different attitudes that people have toward debt and what they can do to pare it down.

Evasive: You'd rather not think about your debts, preferring to visit a dentist than make a financial plan.

Consider a debt-consolidation loan to make your finances more manageable. Roll many bills into one. But don't run up new bills afterward, or you could compound your problem.

Impatient: You need to see results quickly to stay motivated.

Your best bet may be to put more money toward the loan with the lowest balance first, so you can pay it off quickly. Then focus on then next largest one. You'll spend a little more than if you paid off the highest interest loans first, but the quick gratification should keep you going.

Organized: You already balance your checkbook every month and even your kitchen junk drawer looks neat.

Set up a biweekly payment plan, and you'll make the equivalent of 13 monthly payments a year, not 12. But first consult your lenders to make sure the additional payments are processed correctly to avoid potential late fees.

Thrifty: You're committed to getting out of debt as quickly as possible and at the lowest cost.

Put every penny you can spare toward paying off your highest interest loan first. Pay just the minimum on the others. After paying off one debt, put the extra money you're saving toward the next-highest interest loan. Keep going, and eventually you can wipe out your mortgage as well.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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