Credit card debt is one of the absolute worst debts you can have. The interest rates are astronomical and are sucking your budget dry each month.
Plus, there’s also the psychological effects that comes along with having debt. A high debt load can lead to depression, stress, and a huge financial strain.
If you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of your credit card debt here’s a five step plan that can help.
# 1 – Make a List of All of Your Accounts and Balances
Start by pulling out a sheet of paper and recording all of your debt. List the card name, balance, interest rate, and minimum payment amount.
When you begin the debt pay-off process you need to take an honest and organized approach. Don’t try to skip this step. You need your total debt amount as well as how much you’re paying in interest so that you can formulate a payoff plan.
# 2 – Call and Ask for Your Interest Rates to be Reduced
Now that you see all of your debts in one place it’s time to try and get some relief on interest. There’s no guarantee that the credit card company will lower your interest rate but if you’ve been a long time customer who has always paid on time you absolutely need to try!
Go down the list and call each of your credit card service providers and ask them to lower your current interest rate.
# 3 – Decide What Pay-Off Method Works Best for You
Once you’ve dealt with the interest rates and hopefully had a bit of success it’s time to decide how you want to go about paying off your debt. (This applies if you have more than one credit card to pay off.)
Debt Snowball Method – The debt snowball method works by paying off your debts from lowest balance to highest balance. (You still make all of your minimum payments.) This method is good for people who need help staying motivated.
I prefer this method because the fewer payments you have the easier everything is to manage.
Debt Avalanche – The debt avalanche method works by paying off your debts from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. (While still making minimum payments on everything else.) This method is good for highly analytical people who want to save money in interest.
There’s no one right or wrong method. Pick a payoff method that meshes well with your own personality and that will keep you motivated.
# 4 – Cut Up Your Credit Cards
Cut up your credit cards. You don’t need them.
If you really want to improve your financial life you’ll save an emergency fund of cash that will cover life’s inconveniences. Your credit cards should never be used unless you can pay them in full. They are not for emergencies.
# 5 – Figure Out Where Your Debt Pay-Off Money Will Come From
Now that you’ve mapped out a debt pay off plan my hope would be that you already have a little wiggle room in the budget so you can start paying extra on your debt. If you don’t, you might need to take some drastic measures.
Cut the Big Expenses – Spending time to save $200/month on rent or transportation is going to go much farther than spend ten hours to save $25 on groceries. Start with the big things and make the changes you need.
Earn More Money – On top of cutting the big expenses you should also focus on earning more money. You can check out this post for some side income ideas but ultimately you just need to take action. There are hundreds of ways you can earn extra money and you need to do something that fits in with your current lifestyle.
Build Momentum from the Start
Paying off debt is not fun but it WILL be rewarding. The key to sticking with it is to build momentum. If you can build momentum right from the start and knock out one credit card bill or even put down a large payment, you’ll benefit from that quick win and will want to keep going.
(Tip: sell some stuff you don’t need or use in the beginning and put it on your debt to build momentum. Or you can use your income tax refund if you get one.)
Stick with paying off debt. Read personal finance books or blogs, find an accountability partner, and get determined. Being consumer-debt free will be so worth it in the long run.