How To Calculate Your Total Debt Balance

Here's how to calculate your total debt balance: Via @ForbesAdvisor

10/20/2021 6:56:00 AM

Here's how to calculate your total debt balance: Via ForbesAdvisor

In the story of personal finance, debt reliably gets cast as a villain. It has been labeled by at least one finance guru as a “dirty four-letter” word and said to be “out of control” and keeping consumers “in chains,” among other epithets. Being debt free is often considered as one of the most desir

In the end, you can borrow to buy just about anything, although federal regulators do impose some restrictions on investors borrowing on margin to buy securities. In order to make sense of your debt load, you have to figure out a way to cut through all this complexity and confusion to come up with a single figure. Here’s how to do that.

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How to Find Out Your Total DebtOne of the most useful aspects of credit reports is that yours contains a detailed record of what you owe. So when you’re sitting down to add up your debts, step one is to request a copy of your credit report. Actually, you should request three copies, one from each of the big credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can

request free copiesof each at you have the reports, go through them and identify all of your debts and their current balances. To be extra sure you have the right amounts, consider contacting the listed creditors to ask them how much you owe. This is especially important if there is a discrepancy between what you think you owe and the balance shown on the credit report.

Now write down the amount of each loan balance, along with perhaps the creditor and the purpose of the loan, in a spreadsheet or ordinary piece of lined notebook paper. Add them up.Is that your total debt amount? Possibly. But you may still want to check further. As you examine the credit reports, you are likely to notice that some debts don’t show up on all of them. So don’t assume all your debts are on these reports.

Some debts, such as loans from friends or family, won’t ever appear on a credit report. Even some businesses don’t report debts to a credit bureau. So go over your records. Look in your files of financial papers, check unopened mail and otherwise do a thorough scan to make sure you’re not missing something.

Once you’ve perused the credit reports, your own records, your creditors’ records—and possibly your memories of jotting down an IOU after losing a hand of friendly poker or a wager on the outcome of a sports contest—add those amounts to your spreadsheet or notebook paper. The total of all these debts represents your total indebtedness.

Track With AppsTo stay on top of your debts in the future, you can harness technology. Entering debts in Quicken or other personal finance software can help track your total debt with a few keystrokes.such as Mint and Personal Capital can help automate data collection on your debts by grabbing data from financial institutions. This can be a very easy and accurate way to keep balances and payments up to date.

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Wrapping Up Your Total Debt LoadDepending on how much of that nearly $15 trillion in U.S. consumer credit you personally owe, the amount of your personal debt load can be an important figure to know. This is especially true if you plan to apply for a loan, start following a budget or make a plan to pay off your debts.

If you start with the debts that appear on your credit reports, then add in any other debts that you can identify, it can be a relatively quick and easy job. And it’s worth doing. You don’t have to agree with the pundits who maintain that debt is a villainous enemy to realize that—when it comes to your total amount of debt—what you don’t know can hurt you.

Find Out If You Qualify For Debt Relief Read more: Forbes »

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