Trying to figure out how to pay off credit card debt and then actually make it happen can be such a challenge. Credit card debt in my personal opinion is one of the hardest forms of debt to make disappear. It is so tempting to put something on your credit card and pay for it later.
However, obtaining financial freedom comes from wrangling yourself out of the clutches of the credit card companies. Our credit cards were the first debts we paid off when we were starting our debt-free journey.
1. Stop Using Debt
First and foremost, STOP USING DEBT! Like right now. Stop using your credit cards. Stop taking out loans. Stop using any debt of any kind.
If you want to become debt-free and pay off credit card debt, you’ll have to stop using it. After all, if you’re trying to pay off your credit card debt and still swiping your card, you’re just undermining your efforts. Just say “no” to all debt.
2. You DO NOT Need a Credit Card
Despite what many believe, you can in fact live without credit cards and not just live, but THRIVE without credit cards. We haven’t had a single credit card in over three years and it has been the most wonderful thing to ever happen to our family. It will take a bit of adjusting to, but over time, it’ll get easier to make only using cash a priority.
3. Snowballing Your Debt
When comes to paying your credit card, start by making a list of all the debts you owe. Write down the company/card, due date, the minimum payment amount, interest rate, and the total balanced owed. Then order your debts from smallest balance to largest balance.
Then look over your budget and determine how much extra you can throw at that first debt (the lowest balanced debt)? Then develop your plan of attack around how much extra you’ll be applying to that debt every month.
Here’s how it works:
|Card||Starting Balance||Minimum Payment||New Payment|
|Credit Card #1||$450||$15||$35|
|Credit Card #2||$730||$30||$65|
|Credit Card #3||$1,500||$50||$115|
|Credit Card #4||$1,795||$70||$185|
So let’s say that you go over your budget and realize that you can afford to pay an extra $20 a month towards the minimum payment on Credit Card #1. Therefore, your “new payment” amount is $35 until you get Credit Card #1 paid off.
Then, once Credit Card #1 is paid off you’ll “snowball” the minimum payment you were making on that card into the minimum payment on Credit Card #2. Which then makes the “new payment” on Credit Card #2, $65 a month until Credit Card #2 is paid for.
Now, you just continue the process until all your cards are paid off.
4. Consolidating Your Credit
This can be great option if you have several credit cards with vary degrees of interest, but I caution you to only use this one as a last resort type thing.
You consolidate your credit cards in a few different ways – you can head to your bank to take out a consolidation loan or go through credit counseling. Now, here’s the thing. You need to make sure that if you consolidate your credit cards that you:
- close out the credit cards completely – so you’re not tempted to use them and further sinking yourself into debt.
- make sure the interest rate is lower than your current interest rates on your credit cards.
I even suggest that before you sign on the dotted line, that you go through an amortization table in order to figure out how long it’ll take you pay off the consolidation loan. This way you will know if this is really the avenue that you should explore.
Have you paid off your credit card debt? If so, how’d you do it?
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