It is easy to find yourself in credit card debt. You plan to pay off your card each month, but something comes up and you aren’t quite able to swing it. The next month you owe more, creating an endless cycle. It is important to get a handle on this debt. The money you pay in interest adds up quickly and having a high debt to income ratio will make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage or other loans. Once you’ve decided to pay off this debt make sure others in the household are on board. Everyone should prepare themselves because it will not be easy. Once you grow accustomed to living off a little float, going cash-only can be tough. There needs to be a real commitment from everyone in the household to pay off this debt.
Stop Using the Cards
You need to remove any temptation you have to spend what you don’t have. You should keep the accounts open. Closing the account while you still owe money will tank your credit score. It will lower the amount of available credit you have and increase your debt to income ratio. If you are concerned that you will have trouble resisting temptation, you can play a few tricks with yourself. Freezing the cards in a container of water is one time-tested choice. To deal with the more modern problem of online shopping, delete all of your saved payment information from your browser and any stores where you have it saved. The extra step needed to re-enter that information before making a purchase may be all you need to put the brakes on impulse purchases.
Check Your Interest Rates
Look at the interest rates you are paying. Start the repayment process by making minimum payments, and throwing all the extra funds you can find towards the card with the highest interest rate. Some people prefer to focus on paying off the card with the lowest balance first, then moving along to the next lowest. The satisfaction you get from paying off the debt may make up for the added interest you will pay.
If you feel that you will have trouble sticking to a repayment plan and will struggle with motivation, taking out a personal loan in order to use the proceeds to consolidate debt with a fixed payment may be a better choice. This way you can have a set number of months to see the light at the end of the tunnel, at a low interest rate, in order to rid yourself of the financial burden. If you are confident you can resist the urge to run up additional debt, consider applying for a balance transfer card. These have a low-interest or even a zero-percent rate for an introductory period. Transferring your debt to and paying it off during the promotional period can save a significant amount of money.
Attack the Debt
Debt often grows out of control if you develop the habit of only making minimum payments. In many cases, you will barely outpace what you pay in interest each month. You should take a hard look at your budget and find areas where you can save. Even an added hundred dollars each month will add up. If you have trouble staying motivated, sit down and calculate how much extra money you will have each month once you’ve paid off your cards.