Today I will be discussing credit card debt tips.
Credit card debt is an absolute moral killer.
If you’ve ever run up the balance on your credit card, then you probably know the feeling. You may be paying more than the minimum payment, but with interest rates of 15-20% or higher, it feels like you’re stuck in a never-ending loop.
One payment forward, two interest fees back. Does the cycle ever end? It’s a depressing way to live.
No matter how daunting your credit card debt seems, there is a way out.
Follow these tips on how to pay off credit card debt, even if you’re broke, there is always a way out and a solution to your problems.
By implementing these habits and methods, I truly believe that you can eventually pay off your credit card debt, and work towards financial freedom.
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Why should I care about paying my credit card debt?
You should care because you don’t want to be burden by those debts and the negative consequences that come along with them.
For example, when you have a high debt to income ratio, your credit score will take a hit, and you may not be able to qualify for much-needed loans like mortgage, auto loan, and the likes.
Besides, the more credit debt you have, the more interest you pay. This money could quickly go to savings if you pay off all your debt.
Paying off multiple credit cards
While there are other methods of addressing credit card debt, I focused on two:
- Cards that had zero-interest balance transfer offers
- The snowball and avalanche methods
Using the two of those, I was able to overcome my debt.
Other options for paying off multiple credit cards include consolidation loans and debt relief/forgiveness. Consolidation loans can be used in a similar way as to how I used zero-interest cards.
However, I personally wouldn’t recommend debt forgiveness if at all possible. It can have a more prolonged, negative impact on your credit.
I also tend to believe that if you get yourself into a situation like that, you need to get yourself out by paying your debts.
With that, I’ll discuss zero-interest credit cards and the snowball/avalanche methods and then go into a bit more detail on how I used them.
Zero-interest credit cards
The ability to leverage zero or low-interest credit cards is going to depend on your credit score, your income, and the credit cards you currently have.
These zero-interest credit cards typically include:
- A balance transfer fee (mine were in the range of 2-5%)
- A promotional period (anywhere from 6-18 months) after which the card reverts to the regular interest rate
I had a decent (not great) credit score when I had accumulated my credit card debt. My credit score allowed me to still find credit cards with 0% introductory interest rates on balance transfers.
I think I opened at least 4 or 5 new cards to get a low introductory rate. But the great thing about a few of the cards was that I continued to receive balance transfer offers.
I was able to use those offers to move money around to save on interest rates while paying down my total balance.
Now, as I discussed earlier, those balance transfers included a balance transfer fee. However, the fee I paid was much less than what would be charged in interest if I didn’t move the balance.
Additionally, opening new cards will result in hard inquiries on your credit report. But those won’t be as impactful or long-lasting as missed payments or declaring bankruptcy.
Pick a debt payoff method for your credit cards
Now you want to pick payoff method.
There are a few different methods that experts suggest when it comes to paying off debt. We will look at two debt pay off strategies: The Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche.
When paying off multiple credit cards using these methods, you pay off the card(s) with the smallest balance (snowball method) or the highest interest rate (avalanche method) first.
You pay it off with the highest payment you can make each month.
The Debt Snowball Method
This strategy is called the snowball strategy because you start small and get bigger.
You focus on paying off the smallest debt first (while still paying the minimums on the others). When the smallest loan is paid off, you focus on the next largest.
Steps to Using the Debt Snowball Method
- List your debts from smallest to largest.
- Focus your overpayments on the smallest debt.
- Continue to pay the minimum on your other debts.
- Once the smallest is paid off, roll the amount you were paying on that one to the next largest (like a snowball).
- Continue until all debts are paid off.
Benefits of the Debt Snowball method
The benefit of using the debt snowball as your debt payoff strategy is the concept of little wins. Paying off the smallest amount of debt first will give you a win sooner than other strategies.
This will give you a sense of accomplishment especially if you have many debts.
The snowball method also has the potential to impact your credit scores more quickly since you are paying off individual debts faster.
The Debt Avalanche
The Debt Avalanche strategy focuses on paying the debt with the highest interest rate first (while still paying the minimum on the others).
After paying off the debt with the highest interest rate, move on to the next in line.
Steps to using the Debt Avalanche Method
- Find the interest rates for each of your debts.
- List the debts in order from largest interest rate to the smallest.
- Focus your overpayments on the largest interest rate.
- Continue to pay the minimum on your other debts.
- Once the largest interest rate debt is paid off, roll the amount you were paying on that one to the next smallest.
- Continue until all debts are paid off.
Benefits of the Debt Avalanche Method
Your debts with high interest rates will end up costing you the most. The idea of paying off the debts with the highest interest rates first is that you will save more money this way.
Crunch the numbers yourself to see how much you will pay in interest alone on each of your debts.
How to pick a debt payoff method
Each of the debt payoff strategies has its own benefits, so how do you pick between the two?
If you have multiple different debts ranging in size, the debt snowball might be a good strategy for you.
By paying off small debts first you will feel more accomplished when you pay off the last bit of each debt. If you need to feel like you are making a dent in your debt, this is a great strategy to take.
If you are looking to save the most money when it comes to debt payoff, the debt avalanche might be a good option for you.
It may feel like it is taking longer to get your debts paid off, but the math will show you the money wins you are making by choosing this strategy.
When it comes to picking the right debt pay off strategy for yourself you should consider how you mentally process wins.
If you need to see the evidence and truly feel like you are doing something, the debt snowball may be a better option.
However, if you are someone who likes to see the numbers and are ok with not reaching wins as quickly then the debt avalanche may be a good option.
Here are some more debt related posts that you find helpful:
Credit Card Debt Tips – Pay off multiple cards
Take action as soon as you know you’re in trouble
I was known to avoid conflict at all cost, I was the king of sweep-it-under-the-rug-and-pretend-it-doesn’t-exist.
But when it comes to your credit card debt, the last thing you want to do is shrug it off.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
If you aren’t able to make your minimum payments and do nothing about it, you will incur late fees. On top of that, your interest rate will go up because of those late fees, and your credit score will suffer.
Talk to your credit card company. More than likely, they will be able to work with you to figure out a solution. It’s their money, after all. They want to make sure they get it back.
Whatever you do — do something. Avoiding the situation will only hurt you in the end.
Cut up or freeze your cards
Get out those scissors and chop that plastic into little bits. Or grab a bowl, fill it with water, dunk your card, and put the whole thing in the freezer. Both can be good ways to stop using that card!
Sometimes not having a card is the only way to break the habit of using it. This almost means you need to log into all those online accounts and delete the saved card information as well!
Eliminate all temptation or possibility of using the card so you get used to not having it as an option.
Create a budget
I know budgeting isn’t fun and it sounds cumbersome, but it’s totally worth it. I highly recommend creating a budget because you’ll have a rough idea of what your spending looks like month to month.
It took me a few months to get in tune with my budget, so don’t be hard on yourself if your budget and spending aren’t perfect at first.
Once you get in tune with your budget, your spending will match that and you won’t need to check in with your budget as much if you’d like.
Your budget will show you:
1) how much you spend each month on living expenses (living expenses are what you need to spend in order to live, ex. mortgage/rent, electricity, insurance, phone, internet, groceries, etc.)
2) how much leftover money you have after living expenses.
Now that you know how much money you have left over after living expenses, you have a specific number that you can use for fun spending, debt, and saving.
I personally do not recommend leaving out a fun category in your budget. When you don’t set aside any money for fun spending like restaurant outings, shopping, etc., you burn out.
Remember, we’re creating a debt pay off journey for the long haul that will actually work. Set aside $/£50+ for fun spending (or whatever feels right to you!).
Would you like to know how to create a budget, but don’t know where to start? Then see the post below:
Check your habits and track your spending
Always track their spending and are always aware of their money routes. If you will not track your spending, your budgeting will not be as efficient as it should be. Before budgeting for your next month, when you track your last month’s spending, it becomes easy to create a budget and make any changes you need for your next month.
You might agree with me that every purchase we make seems to be very important to us. We are living in a materialistic culture, where much of the attention is given to owning things, even if we don’t need it. I think you will agree with me on this one that If you want to achieve financial freedom, you have to track your spending and figure out the unnecessary purchases.
It will be easy to figure out your budget when you know, exactly where your money is coming and where it is going. There are a lot of apps to track your expenses but you can do it old school way also. Take your pen and paper, and start writing down your expenses. This is the best habit you can develop to stay debt-free.
Would you like advice on cutting down your monthly expenses, but don’t know where to start? Then see the post below:
Use the cash envelope system
At the beginning of each month, take out the amount of cash you have to spend for the month from the bank.
Using labelled envelopes, budget for all of your spending, including food, clothing, entertainment, and bills. Distribute your cash for the month among your envelopes, and stick to that budget. Once the cash is gone from an envelope, that is it for the month for that spending category.
Use Excel to create a spreadsheet to track your spending each month, and make adjustments as needed. If you find that you are running out of cash for food before the end of the month, consider which envelope you could take some money out of to put into the grocery fund.
This style of budgeting is known as the cash-envelope system and has been popularized by financial guru Dave Ramsey. This method goes back years and was most like used by your parents or grandparents!
If you would like to learn more about the cash envelope system in detail, then see our post below:
Create an emergency fund
A common use for credit cards, other than impulse purchases, is for emergencies. Things just come up that have to be covered if you don’t have the cash for them.
The solution to this problem is to save up an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is a certain amount of savings that you set aside and do not touch unless something urgent and unexpected happens.
Not buying a new couch or iPad, not going on vacation with the girls. Emergencies.
So, if your car gets a flat tire, or your dryer overheats, or your dog gets sick and has to go to the vet.
If you already have money set aside for unexpected events, you’ll be more prepared to deal with them without adding to your debt.
The amount you want in your emergency fund will depend on your situation. I generally like to have $/£1,000 at all times. That seems to cover most minor emergencies and isn’t a crazy difficult amount of money to save for most people.
Take a good look at your situation and figure out a good amount for you to work on saving.
Would you like to know how to create a emergency fund, but don’t know where to start? Then see the post below:
Spend less than you earn
One of the most important steps to reach financial freedom is to live below your means. The biggest mistake people make is to inflate their lifestyle based on how much they earn.
Ignore your friends that spend all their money on a bigger house or a new car! By learning to live a more minimalist lifestyle and understand the things you need rather than the things you want, you will increase your chances of building your wealth.
This doesn’t mean you don’t need to enjoy life during your journey to financial freedom and deprive yourself of everything!
If you deprive yourself too much, you risk creating a miserable life. Remember, reaching financial freedom is a long journey: depending on your savings rate, it could take you many years!
Focus on happiness and spending money that will bring joy into your life, instead of thinking about luxury.
You just need to find the right balance and think twice before spending on things you don’t need.
Would you like to know how to complete a no spend month to save money? Then see the post below:
Setting goals is one of the best life hacks you can learn, in my opinion. Setting financial goals will help you achieve what you want most out of life.
One popular goal-setting strategy is the SMART method. I would recommend using this method, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
You should also consider short-term and long-term goals, and always write down your goals. Finally, your financial goals should be in line with the vision you want for your life.
Would you like to know how to set SMART financial goals, but don’t know where to start? Then see the post below:
Look to increase your income
There are a lot of ways you can increase your income these days.
Many people choose to take on second jobs on their own time, such as freelancing or working in direct sales. Or just a part-time side hustle.
You can also pick up a night job if you typically only work during the day. If your current place of employment could use some more help, talk to your boss about working overtime to get some more hours in.
Another way to increase your monthly cash flow is to consider getting a roommate, or getting on a family plan for your cell phone. You may even consider downsizing your living space if you are paying for a room that you don’t use.
Interested in earning some extra cash through a side hustle? Then see the posts below:
Credit card debt tips – Final thought
Getting out of credit card debt can seem impossible at times.
But with the right mindset, not only can you overcome your debt, but you can teach yourself to use credit cards in a way that is actually beneficial to you.
Have you struggled with credit card debt? Are there other strategies you used to overcome it?
Please share in the comments below. It may just be what someone needs to make a considerable improvement in their financial health.
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If you found this post useful, you might want to save THIS PIN below to your Pinterest Debt board for later!
Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about topics such as lifestyle, self-care, self-development, finance, saving money and making money. Come and join the community!