Credit card debt is a major problem that many individuals are struggling with. Whether you are a college student who has paid for tuition or books or someone who just uses a card for bills and groceries, anyone who has a credit card knows what its like to feel stuck in high-rate debt. However, even though credit card debt is a horrible place to find yourself, don’t think that it is the end of the world. There are many solutions or steps you can take to get yourself back to financial freedom. Here are some suggestions.
- Change your behavior: Before you can fix a problem, you have to know why and how it became a problem in the first place. You may need to change your spending habits or learn how to manage your money more effectively. Reduce some of your common expenses such as your cell phone bill, eating out, and the amount you spend on gas by limiting your trips or car share. You don’t have to do away with the things you need or some of the things you want, but you have to make paying off debt your number one priority.
- Stop spending: This is so obvious, but for some reason people are unable to do it. Cut up your cards or make your family or friends hide them. Get rid of the temptation of using them because its only going to make it worse. Rather than spending money on things that you don’t need and spending money you don‘t even have, make an effort to save money so you can make more than just the minimum monthly payment you are required to make on your cards. This will get you out of debt quicker, rather than dig you in deeper.
- Don’t open any new accounts: If you are already swimming in credit card debt, then why open more accounts just to make it worse? Opening a new account just to pay off an old one doesn’t solve the problem, it just keeps you in it. Don’t give yourself more to stress over, take care of all your active accounts and forget about anything new.
- Create a budget: Creating a budget is vital because it helps keep everything organized and organization is very important when it comes to finances. By creating a budget you will know every source of income you have as well as all your expenses. This allows you to see where your money is going each month and also provides you with an idea of the extra money you should have. Once you create a budget, if you find that you have extra money each month, then it needs to go towards your credit card debt. That way you are not spending money on things you don’t need and putting it towards something much better: a step towards financial freedom.
- Pay off the card with the highest interest rate or the lowest balance: You know yourself better than anyone else, which is why this decision should be made by you. If you are someone who is very concerned with the mathematical aspect of credit card debt, then you should pay off the card with the highest interest rate first. The higher the interest rate, the more they tack on to your balance. So it would make sense to pay those balances off first. However, if you are someone who needs to see quick results, then you should pay off the card with the lowest balance first. By doing this, you will get psychological satisfaction from seeing progress in reducing your amount of debt. Also, feeling the relief of paying something off will motivate you to continue down that same path to pay off the larger balances. Either way you just have to start paying off your debt!
- Don’t transfer balances: Many people think that transferring the balance of one card to another will help get them out of debt quicker, but that is not always the case. The only time you should do this is if you know you will have the balance paid off by the end of the promotional period offered by your card issuer. The Discover it® has one of the best balance transfer offers right now. With 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, this is one of the best cards you can use if you are considering transferring your balance.
- Get assistance: There are many services available for you that offer assistance in finding solutions to overcome debt. You can search online for different credit counseling programs or debt management programs that can help you plan out the steps you need to take to get out of debt. Many of these services offer free evaluations and advice that will help you determine the best way to approach your situation.
- Pay bills on time: Pay your bills on time. This cannot be stressed enough. Being late with your payments tacks on unnecessary late fees, will sometimes raise the annual percentage rate, and will hurt your credit rating. Learn how to manage your money well enough to know that you will be able to make the minimum monthly payment each month. Consider setting up automatic payment transfers from your bank account because it requires less hassle and is more convenient than sending your payment in each month. If you are struggling to make the minimum payment required, then call and talk to the card issuer about lowering your payment or changing the due date. Don’t let it go because it will only make the problem worse.