Credit card debt is easy to get into and difficult to get out of. Credit cards make it easy to spend more than you have; purchase items you don’t really need, and can give you a false sense of financial security. Many of us carry credit cards in fact according to the Survey of Consumer Payment Choice, 609.8 million credit cards are held byU.S. consumers. That’s a lot of credit cards that can add up to a lot of debt!
The average credit card debt per US household with credit card debt is $15,799. That means many of us are carrying the baggage of credit card debt. Don’t be a statistic make a difference in the way you use your cards and your credit card debt today.
Here are 10 ways to help you say goodbye to your credit card debt.
- Spend less you earn. Basic, yet powerful advice, “If you can’t afford to pay for it now, don’t buy it.” Live within your means and use those saved dollars to pay down your credit cards.
- Pay more than the minimum on your credit cards. Start with the highest interest rate card first—send as much as you can beyond the minimum payment, while still fulfilling your other financial obligations. Understand how your credit card’s interest rates and minimum monthly payments affect your bottom line using this credit card debt calculator.
- Boost your income. Can you juggle two jobs or add part-time work to your career? Consider selling items you no longer need on Craigslist or eBay. Maybe even turn your hobbies and interests into income as a music instructor, writing tutor, handyman, etc.
- Choose debit over credit. 80% of consumers own a debit card. If you are one of them choose debit over credit card–this forces you to buy only what you can afford based on the balance in your bank account. If the money is not there, you can’t spend it. This also prevents the risk of damaging your credit if you can’t pay the bill.
- Remember cash? Those small-dollar purchases you make using a credit card may not seem like much individually, but they add up when examined collectively. The next time you want to add a fancy latte or new video game to your shopping list, put the credit card away and buy only what you can afford using the cash in your wallet. Follow this advice, and those last-minute additions might not seem so necessary-and your credit card won’t get a workout.
- Make budget maintenance a priority. Schedule a weekly appointment on your calendar to review what you’ve spent during the previous week, ensure that any outstanding bills are paid on time, and identify upcoming expenses so you can plan to cover them. Schedule this time just as you would a doctor’s appointment or business meeting, and you’re more likely to perform these important budget reviews and manage your finances more effectively.
- Communicate with your creditors. If you’ve been making consistent payments, call your card provider, and request an interest rate reduction or new monthly repayment schedule so that due dates fall after you receive your paycheck. Consumers who shift their payment due dates can often allocate their income more effectively and ensure timely payments. You have nothing to lose by making these requests.
- Expect the unexpected. Lets face it life happens and being prepared with an emergency fund can help you avoid placing these expenses on your credit cards. While paying down debt is important, saving is equally important. You never know when a job loss or medical emergency may happen.
- Set a realistic goal and reward. Calculate a date when you’d like to pay off a credit card or bill and then enjoy a small splurge for all of your hard work. There’s a psychological boost to be gained when achieving each milestone on the way to becoming debt-free.
- Seek help from a debt relief provider. You have tried all of the above but it just doesn’t seem to be enough—the end is nowhere in sight. Consider talking to reputable debt relief provider that can tailor solutions based on your needs. There are several options available for debt relief. A debt management plan consolidates your unsecured debt into a single monthly payment that you send to a debt relief provider who then distributes designated funds to your creditors. After you make a string of timely payments, the debt relief provider leverages that history to secure benefits to help you fulfill your obligations over time (e.g., interest rate reductions, late and over-the-limit fee waivers, and reduced monthly payments). Another plan, debt settlement, helps people who can’t repay their debt in full and are facing bankruptcy. Under this arrangement, your debt relief provider approaches your creditors with an offer to settle your accounts for a portion of the amount owed.
Getting out of credit card debt brightens your financial future but smart credit card use can help to keep you debt free.
If you struggled with credit card debt, what did you do to say goodbye?