There are numerous suggestions for paying off credit card debt fast, but if you’re not working on the bigger picture of spending less than you earn, it’s easy to fall back into the same old cycle. By making a realistic budget that takes into account your income and expenses, you can curb unnecessary spending and get more cash to toss at your credit card balance. Here are some quick tips that will help you get back in the driver’s seat financially.
o Be realistic when it comes to your spending habits: For most people, their debt only comes to light when they can’t make minimum payments on their credit cards. If you’re currently in this situation, take some time to think about your monthly spending and come up with an average. Then, see how much money you have left at the end of the month to make your required minimum payments. If you still have money left over after making all your minimum payments, use that money to pay down your balance as quickly as possible.
o Know your priorities: You need to know what type of balance will yield the highest savings each month. If you have several credit cards with balances from high interest rates, you should focus on getting the lowest balance first and then use those cards to pay off the highest balance first. Keep in mind that there is a point at which your interest rate will simply become less of an issue, because it won’t be as much of an expense if you pay the lowest balance every month. This will also give you more financial flexibility as your debt gets paid down.
o Balance transfer: If you are struggling to make your minimum monthly payments, consider a credit card consolidation or balance transfer. By transferring your balances to a lower interest rate card, you can save even more money each month. You may also benefit by reducing your overall debt load by spreading your monthly payments out. This will help you get on a track to getting out of debt faster. In addition, many credit cards offer special reduced interest rate rates when you transfer your balances. For some, this will mean as much as half the amount they owe.
o Debt consolidation: You can often reduce your monthly payments by getting rid of multiple credit cards or loans. Take advantage of lower interest rate loans by consolidating them into one lower interest rate loan. This will keep all your balances in one place, making it easier to pay them off faster.
o Balance transfer credit cards: There are several balance transfer credit cards available to consumers today. Make sure you shop around before signing up for the first one that comes your way. Remember, interest rates and fees can vary quite a bit, so make sure you get the best deal. Be sure to check your APR regularly, especially if you are already signed up for an account with a particular bank or card company. You should be able to avoid balance transfer fees if you pay off your balances at a certain time.
o Personal loan: If your household income is low, you can take out a personal loan. However, make sure you get the loan through a reputable source and use the funds for the intended purpose. Paying off your credit card debts with a personal loan may take years, so keep your payments up to date to avoid adding to your debt.
A good rule of thumb is to pay the minimums on all cards except the emergency credit cards. If you have other options such as putting your emergency cash account to work for you, then you don’t need to max out your other cards. Maintain a steady pace with your payments, even if it’s not much. You can always increase your minimum payments later on. By paying your bills on time every month, you will gradually repair your credit.