Outstanding credit card debt is something a lot of people have to deal with in this country. It’s estimated that about 47% of Americans have credit card debt and that 40% of those with credit card debt cannot afford to pay more than the minimum. This is a very serious problem, but one that can be solved if you take the proper steps. You will also need to have discipline and possibly use some tools to make things easier for you. Here are a few tips for people who are struggling with credit card debt.
Know the Actual State of Your Debt
The first thing you have to do is gather all of your credit cards and calculate exactly how much you owe. Only then will you be able to come up with a solid plan to repay. If you feel like you can handle the debt on your own, then you can always build a personal plan, but if the debt is too hard to handle, then you might want to look at other solutions.
You could pay off credit card debt through a service like Tally, for instance, which will consolidate all your cards and allow you to pay through a line of credit. They offer better rates than most credit cards, so you’ll make instant savings. You also can look at the state of your debt through their interface and see exactly how much you save and how much there is left to pay.
Use the Avalanche Method
There’s a famous technique called the “avalanche method” that you could use too. The way it works is simple. After you’ve paid all of your most important expenses like your mortgage and your car finance, you can make minimum payments on the card that has the lowest interest rate and maximize your payments on the one with the highest rate. Once you’re done paying off that card, you can stow it away and destroy it and start working on the next one in line.
Alternatively, you could use the “snowball method” instead. With this technique, you’ll be paying the card with the lowest balance first then moving up. Not only will you be able to use the money you used to pay on that card to pay your other card, but you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment after every card that you pay off.
Cut Your Cards Up – But Keep the Accounts
Next, we suggest that you destroy most of your cards and only use the one that has the most favorable rates and perks. It would also be a good idea to pick a card with a low or mid-range credit limit that will cover most of your needs. One thing you should not do, however, is close those accounts. Having a lot of available credit is a good thing for your finances as it will boost your credit score. Credit card companies and credit bureaus view this as a good thing, and since your cards will have been destroyed, you won’t have to worry about going overboard. And, if you feel like you can handle more credit, then you can always request a new card from your provider.
Cut Your Expenses
You may also have to adjust your spending habits if you want to pay off your credit card debt. Making simple changes to your routine could be more than enough here. If you spend a lot of money on prepared foods and restaurant meals, you might want to learn how to cook at home. You might also want to invest in a nice chest freezer so you can buy things in bulk and make additional savings.
And that thing about millennials not being able to afford a house because they spend too much on Starbucks is not a myth. If you spend more than $3 a day on specialty coffee drinks, that’s over $1000 a year that could go towards paying off your credit card debt. So, make better decisions and start making coffee at home instead. If you need coffee on the go, pick up a Thermos and fill it up with your favorite blend.
Another area where a lot of people could save money is on energy. If you have never negotiated a better deal from your current supplier, now is the time to call them. You should also do things such as replacing your current light fixtures for less energy-hungry ones, cutting your hot water utilization and shutting down your boiler when you’re not using hot water, and installing smart thermostats, among others.
As you can see, there are tons of things that you can do if you’re feeling overwhelmed with credit card debt. Don’t give up, however, and keep working hard until you’re finally debt-free or when your debt is manageable.