October 28th, 2013
6 Tricks for Paying Off Credit Card Debt
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**Today’s guest post is contributed by Lauren.**
Paying off credit card debt is one of the best things you can do for your finances and your future. Unfortunately, it is also hard work! Here are 6 tricks to help you tackle your credit card debt and pay it off even faster.
1. Determine Your Personality Type
Debt is a marathon, not a sprint. Paying off debt only works if you are committed to it. With that being said, there are two main approaches to paying off debt: the “Debt Snowball” method and the “Debt Avalanche” method. The Debt Avalanche recommends paying down whichever balances have the highest interest rates first, while the Debt Snowball recommends you pay off accounts with the smaller balances first.
If you’re a penny pincher, paying off the highest interest rate accounts first probably makes the most sense because it will save you more money in the long term, and more money saved means more money for paying down debt. On the other hand, paying off debt can be difficult and motivation is key; for that reason, many like the feeling of having the smallest card or account paid off and use that feeling of accomplishment to push forward.
2. Put Your Cards Away
This can be difficult, especially if you’ve used credit cards as automatic payment accounts for things such as rent and utilities, but it is very important to stop using the cards, immediately. You cannot get a clear picture of what you need to pay down and how long it will take to complete payoff if you continue to use the charge accounts. I keep mine in blocks of ice in the freezer (no joke!) Even if I feel like using them, by the time it takes them to thaw I’ve rethought the decision.
3. Pay More than the Minimum
This one may seem fairly obvious, but paying off more than minimum is the fastest, sure-fire way to pay down your credit card debt. Even if you pay just a little more each month, that can make all the difference. For example, say you have $5,000 on a credit card with 18% APR. If you make just the minimum monthly payment ($100), it will take you 35 years to pay off the balance in full and by the final payment you will have spent a total of $12,863 on interest. By increasing the payment to $110 each month, your debt will be paid off in 6 years with only a total of $3,461 spent on interest. What a difference a mere ten dollars each month makes!
4. Increase Your Income
Truly motivated to get rid of your debt? Set up a side hustle and funnel the extra money toward your debt. This is especially important for paying more than your minimum balance, and also to help boost savings in case an emergency arises in the middle of your debt repayment.
5. Reward Yourself
As stated above, debt repayment only works if you manage to keep yourself motivated for the long term. This is why it is important to reward yourself every time you meet one of your goals. Finish paying off an account? Pay more than your minimums for six months? Treat yourself to something small, but nice. A new item (piece of clothing, video game) or nice night out for you and your significant other can ensure you still are enjoying things in the middle of your debt repayment process.
6. Make a Plan that Affects All Your Debt
If you have credit card debt, sometimes it is too easy to believe the cards are the full extent of your problem. But often times other types of debt can influence how you deal with the credit cards. That’s why it is best to make a plan that incorporates all your accounts, including car loans, mortgages, student loans and other loans. After all, even one late payment on your mortgage or your car loan can hurt your credit score. You don’t want problems with credit card debt to carry over into other aspects of your financial life, and with a comprehensive plan for tackling all your payments you won’t have to worry about that. You’ll have peace of mind.
Lauren Bowling is a personal finance writer at ReadyForZero, a website that helps people get out of debt faster on their own. She enjoys writing about all things finance, relationships, and self-esteem.
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