3 Methods to Reduce Credit Card Debt
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Credit card debt has become a prevalent issue in America. It affects millions, robbing them of financial stability and futures alike. A lot of the blame can be placed onto credit issuers who make it as easy to apply for cards as it is to address an envelope.
Major Credit Cards: The glue that binds society? Or something you should stay away from at all costs! These plastic pieces have been around since 1958 but their role within our culture is much different now than what it was back then.
Some say too differently even though we’ve had decades’ worth of experience learning how not only to handle these treasures ourselves financially but also how credit card companies handle credit card debt in general.
How to get out of credit card debt the easy way
A lot of companies are realizing that they can make money on the backs of these people. They lure them in with discounts and perks, only for those deals to turn out not as good when you have no other choice but to pay back your credit card debt because it was used without thinking about future payments.
Why Credit Card Debt Is So Dangerous
The majority of people are under the misconception that they can just pay off their credit card debt slowly and settle it in full. What many do not factor into account, however, is how much interest rates on these cards will increase over time as well as all fees associated with them like late payments or bankruptcy protection plans which could cost more than what’s originally owed if used incorrectly
A common mistake made by individuals who struggle financially because when one has no money available to make financial sacrifices—their only option may seem suddenly having high-interest charges pile onto an existing balance until there’s no way they can possibly get out of debt.
You could pay your minimum amount and interest on the card for years, but that would leave a dent in how much credit you used. If there’s an emergency where missed payments are inevitable or just too many times making late payments then late fees will need paying as well. Too many times and your interest rate will jump too!
The banks are playing with your financial life. The banks know exactly what they’re doing and will do whatever it takes to keep you spiraling deeper into debt – paying more in interest than on any other credit card or loan. You may feel like a slave, but there are ways out!
That is what we are going to talk about today – how to Reduce Credit Card Debt!
How Debt Affects Your Credit Scores
Carrying a lot of debt, especially high credit card balances, hurts your credit score and your ability to get approved for new credit cards, loans, and an increased credit limit. Even if your debt-to-income ratio is low, if your debt hurts your credit score, you could still be denied.
The higher your credit scores, the more likely you’ll be approved for a loan or an account with better interest rates and lower monthly payments. That said, having low credit scores can lead to more than just paying more for loans and accounts. Higher credit scores might also affect your insurance rates, your ability to rent an apartment or buy a house, and even the interest rate you pay on student loans.
Generally, the credit bureaus consider anything over 670 a good credit score. If your score is 671 or higher, you’re doing fairly well and have excellent credit scores. The best credit score and the highest credit score possible is 850 for both FICO® and VantageScore models.
This high-stakes situation is enough to induce panic, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a few things you can do – both in the short and long term – to start paying down your credit card debt so you can raise that credit score.
Repairing Your Credit
Put an end to credit card debt! If you’re sick and tired of the never-ending bills and calls from the banks, it’s time to be proactive and take a stand.
Here is your first step – any credit counselor will tell you the same thing The good news is that this will work for any debt payments that you have to make
The first thing you need to do is get a piece of paper and write down the outstanding balances on all the credit cards you have. Write down the interest rates charged for each card too.
Now, you need to adopt 1 of 2 methods to pay off the credit card debt. If you only have one credit card, you don’t need the methods below. Just pay your bill on time and always pay MORE than the minimum sum.
Free up money
Even $50-$100 more makes a difference and you’ll reduce the amount you’re paying towards interest and also help to diminish your outstanding balance. YOu are going to need to prioritize your spending and create a budget of sorts.
What things can you live without while you’re paying off that credit card debt?
If you are in debt, it can be hard to know where to start. One of the best ways is by making a list of things that you need but don’t really need right now. Things like groceries, gas for your car, and even electricity can’t wait but maybe that new pair of shoes or haircut you get every 6 weeks can. Try getting that haircut every 8-9 weeks and putting those shoes off for another month, if you can.
Our 61 Ultimate Money-Saving Tips List should help you with a few ideas on how you can tweak things to free up that money you need.
If you really want to reduce credit card debt, you need to see where you can make temporary cuts to free up that cash.
What Is the Quickest Way to Pay Off a Credit Card?
Unless you have a Fairy Godmother – there is no magic way to instantly turn this around. I’m sorry to break it to you – but you will have to work on this for a bit.
It takes time and determination to conquer a mountain of debt.
It really does. It’s not going to magically change overnight – there are a few steps you need to do. We are going to cover 3 different ways to pay off your credit cards: Balance Transfers, Debt Snowball, and the Debt Avalanche.
How do I pay off debt with balance transfers?
A balance transfer credit card is a strategy I have seen some finance coaches teach and I cringe. They tell you to get yet ANOTHER credit card and put the balance of the old one(s) on it.
This is good in theory, but people forget to cancel the old cards and don’t pay off things while that 0% interest rate is available. They potentially cause themselves MORE problems. Keep in mind that this is NOT a debt consolidation loan.
What is a balance transfer offer?
A balance transfer is a credit card agreement that allows you to shift the balances of your high-interest debt onto one or more cards with lower interest rates. This can be an excellent way for you to get out of debt faster, but it does have drawbacks. First, balance transfers are only available for a set period of time and usually have an upfront fee. Second, you’ll need to make sure that you can pay your new card off before the introductory period expires.
A balance transfer fee can hit at the end of your introductory window and pop you into a worse position than you were in the beginning. If you use that lower interest rate to buy your time to pay off your high-interest debts it could work as your debt management plan – in theory.
They usually give you 6 months interest-free. If you are only going to make the minimum payment then balance transfer cards are not something you should look into.
How to Cancel a Credit Card
If you are in debt, one of the best things to do is stop using your credit card. If you have a balance, it means that every month there’s interest on your already-high balance. You should not cancel the card – it can hurt your credit report but you COULD call the company and lower your limit.
How to get out of credit card debt
So, let us look at a sustainable method to make this a reality.
How the Debt Snowball Method Works
The debt snowball method will require you to pay the minimum sum on all your accounts EXCEPT the smallest balance. You’ll pay more for this loan.
For example, if you have 3 credit cards and you owe $2,000, $1,000, and $700 to each card respectively…
You’d pay the minimums for the first 2 cards. However, for the 3rd card which has an outstanding balance of $700, you’ll pay more than the minimum. In fact, you’ll try to pay as much as possible.
Your goal will be to settle off this $700 outstanding balance FIRST… because it’s the smallest amount.
Once this $700 is paid up, you’ll carry on paying the minimum for the next smallest balance – that $2000 balance… BUT now, you’ll use the extra money you have (from not having to pay for the 3rd card) to pay off the $1000 balance.
So now, your goal will be to pay as much as you can towards the $1,000 balance and eliminate it. Once that’s done, you’ll move on to the final $2K balance.
This is why it’s called a ‘snowball’. You’re rolling your way towards the biggest debt.
There are a few pros and cons to the debt snowball method. The biggest advantage it has is that it motivates people. You feel inspired when you clear off the smaller debts. You can see the debt diminishing. For the average person, that visual progress makes a HUGE difference when looking at methods to reduce credit card debt, and those extra payments that you are flipping into your next credit card statement seem like a good idea.
However, your debt elimination plan can take years, especially if the biggest outstanding balance you have is formidable. You’ll also end up paying more in interest
This is why the second method is recommended…
How do I pay off debt with the avalanche method?
With the debt avalanche method, you’ll order your credit cards by their interest rates… and focus on eliminating the debt which has the highest INTEREST rate first. The focus here is on the interest and not the outstanding balance. That total amount of interest can make a huge difference in how much you have to pay in the long run, even on smaller balances.
For example, if you owe $500 on one card with a 9% interest rate, but you owe $2,000 on another card with a 16% interest rate, you will focus on paying the $2,000 balance first.
It doesn’t matter if it’s easier to pay off $500. You’ll still focus on the $2,000 because you’ll be saving money when you clear off the debt with higher interest.
This will mean that while on the surface, you can’t feel good about quickly paying off a small debt, in the long run, you’ll pay off all your outstanding debt much faster.
So here is how it works…
You’ll pay the minimum on all your balances EXCEPT the one with the HIGHEST interest rate. You’ll pay as much as you can for this card until it’s paid up. Then you’ll move on to the card with the next highest interest rate and so on.
The advantage of the debt avalanche method is that you’ll save a lot more money (from paying less interest) and be able to pay off your debt even quicker.
The downside is that you’ll need discipline because this method will not motivate you, especially if the outstanding balance is huge for the high-interest credit card and it seems to be taking ages to settle it.
However, once you pay off the huge debt, and s.tart using the excess money you have to pay off the next one, you’ll see how AMAZING this method is.
The magic comes later, but when it does, you’ll be blown away.
You’ll settle the second card faster… and the third one even faster. That’s why it’s called an avalanche. You gain momentum with time. This method of debt repayment is highly recommended as a way to reduce credit card debt and is often seen as the best option to have the smallest debt in the long run.
Set a strategy
Decide which method will work well for you and use it to reduce your debt. The sooner you start, the better. I read a proverb once: It’s better to go to bed hungry than to wake up in debt.
I totally believe that and love the fact that we have everything paid off – from our home to our plastic.
I want that feeling for YOU!
How do you reduce debt effectively when you’re already living paycheck to paycheck?
You can get a second job for weekends, evenings, and/or whenever you can take some time.
Debt is something that most people find difficult to manage. This is especially true when you are living paycheck-to-paycheck and it seems like the bills don’t stop coming in, but the paycheck never comes. The best thing to do is take a look at your budget and see where you can cut some costs. If it’s not possible, then consider getting a second or even third job.
I have talked before on side hustles – and honestly? You don’t need to be a mom to do these and bring in extra income. I have over 60 listed now and will be adding a few more. This article is a good place to start if you need to add more money to your coffers so you can pay down your debt: 50+ Side Hustles for Moms: Stay-at-home Moms Looking to Earn Money.
How long will it take to pay off the $5,000 debt?
$5,000, $10,000, or even $20,000 in debt? I read somewhere recently that the average family is currently carrying $25,000 in credit card debt – and that covers everything from major credit cards to store cards.
I will tell you that the sooner you start to reduce credit card debt, the better.
I am a FIRM believer that we can do anything for a short period of time. That means you CAN live without hitting restaurants, getting that Starbucks drink, turning movie “date night” into either a streaming event at home, or hitting the one day a week that the movie theater has $5 films.
Have a mini celebration each time you clear a credit card debt off your plate – it is one more step in the correct direction for you and your family’s financial health!