Thinking about consolidating your credit card debt? This can be a good idea since credit cards tend to have a high interest rate making it difficult to get ahead with payments. We highlighted 5 ways to make credit card consolidation work
Consolidating your credit card debt can simplify your payments and likely score you a lower interest rate. However, just like any debt relief option, there are risks. You could dig yourself deeper into debt or damage your credit even further. Here are 5 key ways to make credit card consolidation work.
1. Creating A Spending Budget Plan
Make sure that you create a budget that allows you to make timely debt payments. When you consolidate your credit card debt, you will likely combine your balances to make just one payment every month. Make sure you know what that monthly minimum payment is and create a budget category for it.
To speed up the debt repayment process, you can also budget for extra payments so your balances will get paid off sooner. Set up automatic monthly payments if you can for the minimum amount to ensure you don’t get any late fees. Then follow up with an additional debt payment shortly after to decrease your balance quicker.
2. Be Careful With High-Interest Loans
One of my favorite ways to consolidate credit card debt is with a balance transfer. Some credit card companies will allow you to transfer your balance from another card and have 0% APR for a limited time. You can save a ton of money on your credit card debt with 0% APR. Plus, you’ll have consolidated your payment too.
One thing to be mindful of is when the APR promotion expires. Afterward, your APR will likely return to the market rate and you’ll be paying interest on your credit cards again. Plan to take advantage of low or no interest and pay off your balances before the 0% APR promo expires
Another option to consolidate your credit cards may involve getting a personal loan. While personal loans can have a lower interest than regular credit cards, be careful to consider what the rate is and consolidating will save you more money.
Also, make sure you get a fixed-rate loan so the rate won’t fluctuate or increase over time.
3. Manage Your Expenses
Steer away from spending a lot of extra money when you pay down your credit card debt. Consolidating debt can be a great relief option if you prioritize getting rid of your balance.
If you do a balance transfer, avoid making new purchases on that card that can just put you deeper into debt. Make sure you’re sticking to your budget and avoiding some unnecessary spending. This could mean putting off certain purchases, finding ways to be more frugal around the house, limiting dining out, etc.
4. Increase Your Net Income
Increasing your income can be a great way to make credit card consolidation work. Consolidating your debt won’t get rid of it or reduce it in any way. This means, you still need to create the means to pay it off quickly. If you’ve cut expenses and gotten on a budget, it may be time to consider earning more money to help pay the debt off.
See if you can pick up extra hours at work, get a part-time job or start making extra money on the side. Offer a skill or service that people need for extra cash. You can babysit or pet sit, do Instacart or DoorDash, freelance online, or offer tutoring or coaching services in some capacity.
Set a target for how much you want to earn each week so you’ll know what you’re aiming for.
5. Get Some Emergency Savings Lined Up
Another way to make credit card consolidation work is to get some emergency savings lined up. Even as you pay down debt, some unexpected expenses may pop up which could throw you off track. Think about how you got into credit card debt in the first place.
Did you overspend often and not stick to your budget? Did you use your credit cards to cover emergency expenses? To avoid repeating the cycle, set aside some emergency savings to help you avoid racking up credit card debt again.
Choose to save an amount that feels comfortable to you. It could be $500, $1,000 or $2,000. Just know that having this cash cushion will give you something to fall back on when unexpected expenses arise.
Consolidating credit card debt can be a great step to take if you’re looking to pay off your balances faster. However, you still need to have a clear plan to make credit card consolidation work. Use these 5 tips to help you make the transition and become credit card debt free sooner than you think.