Credit cards easily get out of control. You simply don’t realize how much you are charging and how little you are paying. Before you can even think about paying your card off entirely, you have to simply regain control of your credit card debt.
Here are five simple steps that will help you regain control, and eventually pay off your debt. Follow them step-by-step and you will find that they aren’t overwhelming or too difficult. In fact, they don’t take much time at all.
1. Pay more.
You shouldn’t carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, but you probably are anyway. If you are only paying the minimum payment, you are slowly killing yourself. This will stretch your payments out for decades. Yes, decades. You need to start putting extra money to each credit card payment. Even if it is only $15, you are saving time and money.
2. Make a phone call.
Take the time to call your credit card companies and request a lower interest rate. It isn’t hard to do. You simply request a better interest rate. If you are a good customer who makes his or her payments on time, you will probably be successful. Tell them that you want the lowest rate possible. You can even say that you have received an offer to transfer your balance to another card at a better interest rate. You want to give them a chance to compete. If they won’t lower your rate, consider switching to a card with a lower rate.
3. Say goodbye.
Send your cards on a little vacation. If you have debt and you can’t pay it completely off, you need to stop using your credit card for now. Put it somewhere that you won’t be able to easily access. This removes the temptation to simply charge this one thing. I suggest a safe deposit box at the bank. This usually always works. If you have a true emergency, you can get it. But it often isn’t worth the hassle to get it to just buy a new sweater.
4. Look for money.
Now is the time to start paying that debt off with what you already have. If you have an 18% credit card and money in the bank earning 5%, you are losing 13% each month. Take your savings and pay off your credit card. This will save you interest and a lot of worry. Then work on building back up your savings by having the amount you paid in credit card debt automatically deposited into your savings each month.
5. Vow to change.
Now that you have seen the stress and problems that credit cards bring, you can make a commitment to change. Credit cards aren’t the problem, they just contribute. The problem is the way you spend. You need to realize that you cannot continue to shop the way you do. You have to change your spending habits so that you aren’t tempted to use your card. It is hard. People slip back into it easily. But you need to find a way to remind yourself that it isn’t worth it. Regain control of your credit and turn it around.