How to pay off your credit card without drowining

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Are you currently experiencing credit card debt?

Are the bills coming in faster than you can pay off even the minimum?

Has your credit score plummeted?

Do you carry a balance on more than 1 card?

Is your debt piling up so much you can’t bear to think about it? Well, help is here!

Use these tips to easily and quickly pay off your credit card debt.

Know How Much You Owe to Pay Off Your Credit Card

First off, you are not alone. The average balance on a US credit card is $16,061.

Total household debt has skyrocketed from $88,063 in 2002 to a whopping $132,529 in 2016.

This is partly due to the fact that while the cost of living has risen by 30% in the past 13 years, our salaries have only risen 28%.

And getting into debt is scary. So a lot of people end up burying their heads in the sand, hoping it’ll magically go away.

Magic won’t pay off your credit card debt, but arming yourself with knowledge and taking these steps can.

And the first step is to know how much you owe. So tally up all your debt and then take a deep breath. This is step one.

By first tallying up the total amount of your debt, it will help you create a working budget.

Then you can create a plan of action such as:

Target One Debt at a Time to Pay Off Your Credit Card

Once you know how much you can allocate in funds, it’s a lot easier to pay off your credit card debt.

By targeting one debt at a time, you can focus more funds on one credit card.

Here’s how to target one debt at a time to pay off your credit card:

  • Choose the credit card with the highest APR rate. They will charge you the highest interest which is, therefore, costing you more money each month.
  • Continue to pay the minimum amount on all your other credit cards.
  • Pay off the credit card with the highest balance first. It will feel really great when you get the highest amount paid off first and will keep you motivated to continue to pay off your credit cards.
  • When you pay off one card’s balance, start with the next card.

Pay More Than the Minimum

Unless you enjoy paying more than twice the amount of the original cost of an item, it’s wise to start paying more than the minimum.

Here’s why you want to pay more than the minimum if you want to pay off your credit card debt:

  • Paying down your debt will take longer. Much longer. But if you pay even just twice the amount of the minimum, it will reduce the time it will take you to pay off the balance by half.
  • Larger interest rates will cost you more in the long run. By paying the minimum each month, you’re only paying off last month’s interest rates and not much else.
  • Your credit score takes a hit. The more debt you take on, the higher your credit utilization ratio climbs. If your credit score takes a hit it could cause problems buying a car, a house, obtaining a loan or even getting a new job.

Consolidate to Pay Off Your Credit Cards

In most battles, divide and conquer is your best strategy.

But when it comes to paying off credit card debt, it’s best to combine to conquer.

This way should let you combine several higher-interest balances into one credit card with a lower rate. This will help you pay down your debt more quickly without increasing payment amounts.

Here’s how to consolidate your credit cards to pay off your credit cards:

  • Low balance transfer rate: While the fees might be 3-5% often you’ll find that the savings from the lower interest rate make up the difference. Check with your credit card company’s policies before you make any decisions.
  • Home equity line of credit: If you own a home, this may be a way for you to quickly pay down your debts. They may offer a lower interest rate than your credit cards. And while closing costs might apply, this approach can be tax deductible.

Obtain a Personal Loan

If you don’t own a home, taking out a personal loan is another way to pay off your credit card.

However, before you run out to your local bank and ask them for money, there are a few things you need to know.

  • Understand clearly what fees and interest they will charge you- compare those fees and rates to what your credit card companies are already charging you. You may find your current rates are lower.
  • Make sure you can commit to their schedule. Often you will have a specific amount of time in which you are required to make all your payments. Don’t choose this option if you can’t meet the deadlines.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

A lower APR rate, that is.

Yes, sometimes just calling up your credit card companies and asking them if they can lower your APR actually works.

Here are some tips on how to lower your APR successfully:

  • Have your credit card information available – including the date when you became their customer.
  • Ask to speak with someone who has the authority to make that decision. Not all employees have the authority to lower your rate. Immediately ask if the representative does have the authority and if not, to be transferred to a supervisor who can.
  • Obtain their information. You want to be in control of the conversation so ask the supervisor for his or her first and last name and their phone number.
  • Lay out the reasons why you feel your credit card interest rate should be lowered. Things like how long you’ve been a customer and discuss your current situation and why things have changed since you first obtained the card. Tell him or her the APR rate you’d like them to lower it to.
  • Be willing to negotiate.

Get Credit Counseling

It’s a lot easier to get into credit card debt than it is to get out of it.

So while you may not have needed a personal shopper to get you into the debt, you might need a credit counselor to help you navigate your way out.

Here’s what credit counseling can do:

  • Advise you on how to manage your money.
  • Offer solutions to your current money management challenges
  • Help you develop a personal plan to help you avoid getting into debt in the future.

Credit counseling is free and can be extremely useful. Having someone who can advise you and support you through a financially and emotionally challenging time can be very helpful.

Cut Back On Other Expenses

It’s so easy to quickly convince ourselves that the things we have in our life we actually “need”.

Like cable television.

Or mani/pedis.

Or that new car rather than the old one we have that works fine.

One easy way to quickly get out of debt is to cut back on our expenses.

So here are some easy ways to get more money:

  • Cut the cable: Streaming services cost $9.99.
  • Clear out the clutter: Organize your home. Get rid of anything you don’t like, use or need. Sell anything you can.
  • Cook in more, Take out less: By cooking at your home, rather than going out or ordering out you’re more likely to eat healthier and save money.

Make More Money

Not always so easy to do but it’s worth it to take a look and see if you can’t find another opportunity to make money.

Otherwise, you might never be able to pay off your credit card debt.

Here are some ways you can make extra money:

  • Sell Your Old Stuff: eBay, Craigslist, there’s an endless list of places wanting to buy your old stuff.
  • Uber Driver: If you have a car, Uber is hiring.
  • Sitting: And there are options, you can babysit, house sit and pet sit. There’s also the option of being a caregiver for an elderly or housebound person as well.
  • Refer: Refer people to your business as a new employee, refer customers to a business who is happy to pay you for them. There can be a lot of business just by telling others how much you enjoyed a product or service.
  • Write: You can get a great job writing. As long as you have a computer, you can write anywhere.

Stop Using Your Card

Congratulations!

You’ve paid off your credit card.

So the last thing you want to do is have it happen to you again.

Here’s how to never have to pay off your credit card debt again:

  • Set New Goals: Keep your focus elsewhere. Find healthy habits that don’t include buying things you don’t actually want or need.
  • Identify Your Triggers: Figure out what sets you off and makes you want to buy stuff you don’t want or need. Most people make poor purchase decisions due to fear, shame or guilt. Figure out which one of those emotions has you heading to the stores and find a healthier solution when you start feeling stressed.
  • Track Your Expenses: When you know what you’re spending your money on, it’s easier to make smarter, healthier decisions.
  • Do NOT Close Your Accounts: While it’s tempting, keeping those accounts open – even if you don’t carry a balance on them will help your credit score improve.

So now that you know the steps to eliminate your credit card debt, it’s time to take action.

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