How to Avoid the Vicious Credit Card Debt Cycle

How many times have you found yourself paying off the same credit card over and over again? Perhaps you paid off that 5, 10 or $15,000 debt and swore to yourself that you would never get into credit card debt again, but yet you found yourself a year later back in the same credit card debt hole.

I’m not here to judge. I’ve been there. Several times.

When my husband and I got married, we found ourselves with $5,000 in combined credit card debt. It took us a few months to get used to our finances before we got serious about paying off our debt. Within six months, we had paid off our credit cards. Awesome, we thought. We’ll never have to do that again. And yet we did, over and over again for the next two years. We would pay off our debt, only to find ourselves in debt again. It normally wasn’t due to consumer spending on our part, but rather hospital visits, unplanned for emergencies, etc.

Why didn’t we just get rid of the credit cards? Well, my husband had mediocre credit and we were really trying to build up his credit score. Lame excuse, I know, but we always relied on those cards as a clutch. And no matter how hard we tried, we always seemed to be one paycheck behind in being credit card debt free.

So what are the ways to get yourself out of this vicious credit card debt cycle once and for all? Here are some tips:

Get Rid of Your Credit Cards

This is, of course, the easiest answer. Just get rid of your credit cards! While this may seem like the easiest answer, it most likely isn’t the best answer.  Almost 15% of your credit score is determined by your length of credit history. Closing down an account that you’ve had for several years could hinder your credit score. And while you may think that you’re never going to get into debt again, your credit score is important for many reasons besides taking out debt.

Some employers have been including potential employees’ credit scores in their background checks. You need a good credit score for a mortgage, or even to rent a place.

Pay it off as you go

What my husband and I have implemented in our journey to get rid of the debt monster, is that we pay off our credit card purchases the same day. So if we go to the grocery store, I save the receipt and as soon as we get home, I transfer the money from our bank account into our credit card.

This is helpful for two reasons: we reduce the chance of getting over our heads in credit card debt, but we still earn points for using our credit card.

By putting all our purchases on a credit card, we were able to save enough points for two free flights to New York for a vacation.

Whatever you decide, make the decision and stick to it. Don’t let yourself get carried away with those dangerous credit cards.