- Personal Finance
Tips For Getting Rid Of Crippling Credit Card Debt
Tips on Getting Rid of Credit Card Debt
Once you find yourself in over your financial head in terms of credit card debt, it can be a bit overwhelming to think about how to get out of it.
First and foremost, examine how you got there and spend some serious time thinking about why your debt got away from you.
Was it an emergency, such as buying airline tickets to fly back home for a funeral that started the financial wrecking ball coming towards you?
Or was it a period of time when you were out of work and decided to use your credit cards when you didn’t have money?
Or was it brought on by not realizing the difference between need and want?
If you can identify the root cause of your credit card debt, you’ll have a better understanding of how the whole snowball effect of credit works when managed poorly - and hopefully prevent it from happening again.
But that doesn’t help much by way of telling you how the heck to solve this problem right now does it?
Let’s look at some facts about credit card debt, what to do and what NOT to do about resolving this troubling situation so you can sleep at night.
HOW TO PAY OFF CREDIT CARD DEBT
1. Analyze your debt – figure out how much you owe and to whom.
2. Look at the APR rates (annual percentage rates) – which are the highest, which are the lowest?
3. Calculate the balances on all cards – arrange them on paper from highest to lowest balances.
4. Itemize your monthly bills - including things like fuel and groceries. How much can you set aside to pay towards any credit card in a lump sum (after meeting the minimum balances on any of your other cards)?
5. Put your credit cards away. Stash them, give them to your spouse to hold onto or both of you – put the cards down and step away! While you are paying off debt, you CANNOT and WILL NOT use your credit cards. It’s like an alcoholic – would you put a bottle of whiskey in front of an alcoholic and hope he stays sober? Probably not – so don’t tempt yourself. Do something with your cards so you will not be tempted to fall off the credit wagon.
6. Get your current credit score. You can get it for free on Creditkarma. Periodically check up on it as well to make sure you're doing what you need to do. Also get your credit report, which is different from your credit score and make sure it is accurate. Take care of any problems on the report.
7. Call all your credit card companies - and try to negotiate a lower rate! It’s possible to do this and pay less money!
8. Decide on which method you want to use to pay off your credit cards. Here are 2 popular ones:
- Debt payoff snowball theory - the theory proposed by Dave Ramsey on Moolanomy. Throw any and all extra money at the smallest balanced credit card because it makes you feel better to see your debt evaporating quickly. Then when that card is paid off, you attack the next card with the smallest balance and so on, working your way to the mother of all of your credit card debts – the one with the biggest balance.
- Debt payoff theory advocated by Ramit Sethi – as proposed in his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich and also on his blog about paying off debt. Attack the highest APR card and keep throwing money there until it is paid down and goes away. Pay the minimum on all other cards until it's paid off. By using this method, you save money that you would lose in interest by concentrating on the smaller cards.
No matter the methodology....like Nike says....just do it!
Things You Should Not Do To Buy Down Your Credit Card Debt
- Do not dip into your 401(k) to pay off debt. You will be taxed twice in effect to "save money". Does that make sense? NO!
- Do not take out a home equity loan
to pay off debt. Why? Because most likely, if you can’t control
your spending and if you've become a credit card junkie, you'll do
it again. Borrowing against your home
equity is bad business. You are tapping
into an asset to pay off a liability. It becomes a vicious cycle!
- Do not transfer your credit card debt to a lower APR card to pay it off unless you are recommended to do this by a reputable credit counselor – NOT a loan officer or anyone associated with a lending institution! They want your money! There are so many loopholes in balance transfers that you may end up paying more than you were paying in the beginning. And it still doesn’t solve the credit card problem – you! Sorry to say it, but if you have a problem with overspending, for whatever reason, you have to attack the root of the problem and stop the madness.
Once you get your credit card debt lined up and decide on how you will go about paying it off, look into automatic deposit for paying off your debt. After you pay off your credit card debt, continue this practice if you ever use a credit card again. Pay it off monthly and you'll never have another sleepless night.
The key to managing credit card debt is to only buy what you can pay off that month. If it’s an automatic withdrawal, you won’t have any choice but to keep yourself focused on what you spend and how you’ll be paying for it.
This is all part of a spending technique that Ramit Sethi advocates on his blog and in his book I Will Teach You to Be Rich which he calls conscious spending. By employing this technique across many aspects of your financial life, you'll learn how to manage your money better and to make it work for you.
Check it out for some more great applications to your financial life!
How To Get Out of Credit Card Debt
Whatever method you decide to use for paying off your credit card debt, you can do it! It just takes that old fashioned phrase – self-discipline - but anyone can do it.
You’ll feel better about yourself if you don’t have this albatross hanging around your neck.
Most people who have credit card debt are very embarrassed by it, but the sad fact is that many who run up credit card debt can’t find a way out of the tunnel.
You can see the light at the end of the tunnel if you begin to realize the problem – why do you buy and how is your credit card spending affecting your life?
Would you be happier with less ‘stuff’ and know that you actually owned it outright? Of course you would!
So let’s get out there and buy down that credit card debt!
How to Get Rid of Credit Card Debt with the Snowball Method
Sources for Credit Card Debt Help
National Foundation for Credit Counseling - nfcc.org
Nonprofit debt consolidation - How Stuff Works.com
Credit Card Calculator - calculatorweb.com
Snowball calculator - whatsthecost.com
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