Prioritizing Your Debt Payments

Prioritizing Your Debt Payments

If you're in debt up to your eyeballs, or at least up to your waist, it can be hard to see which debts should be paid first. The creditor that screams the loudest may not be the best one to repay first.

Some debts should take precedence over others because they can have worse consequences. Here are the bills you should pay off first:

Back Child Support Payments

If you don't pay child support, you could be found in contempt of court. That could land you in jail, have half your net wages garnished, and have driver's and professional licenses revoked.

A lien could be placed on your property, your tax refund intercepted, and your car could be booted, among other things you don't want.

Income Taxes

Owing the federal government money can leave you with high interest and fees, in addition to the original amount owed.

To resolve this, the feds may put a tax lien on your property which will be listed on your credit reports and they could seize your property and garnish wages. Money in retirement accounts and other bank accounts you have may be claimed, and your home or vehicle may be sold to pay the debt.

Car Title Loans

These loans use your vehicle as collateral, usually providing 30 days to repay the loan. They have high-interest rates of 25 percent or more per month, equaling an annual rate of 300 percent.

Miss a payment and the lender can repossess the car. If you need your car to get to work, then getting the money for the loan will be that much harder.

The car may be sold at auction. You may also be required to pay the difference between what the car is sold for and how much is left on the loan.

Vehicle Payments

If you don't have a title loan but are financing your car with an auto loan, paying late or missing a payment or two could cause the vehicle to be repossessed. You'd have to make the payments, along with late fees, to get it back.

Mortgage Payments

Missing a mortgage payment is only behind missing a car payment because it takes longer to foreclose on a home than it does to repossess a car. A foreclosure takes an average of 19 months to process, giving you a longer period to work out the problem.

That can be enough time to pay the missed payments and late fees, or at least find another place to live. Your credit score will be extremely low, making it hard to rent or obtain another home loan.

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