Dealing with credit card debt is something many people face for a range of
reasons. It may be that household expenses exceed income, maybe you are trying to run a business and struggling to maintain positive cash flow, or there could be an emergency that requires the cardholder to make a large purchase or payment for something essential.
Whatever the reason may be, credit card debt can be a difficult situation to be in and getting out of the debt while challenging is not impossible.
If you’re serious about getting out of debt, the best starting point is to look at their income and expenses and see how much money comes into the household/business and what expenses are being paid out. This simple budgeting exercise will give you a visual on where money is coming from and where it is being spent and in reflecting on expenses, those things that you can control, and you can choose to reduce those “want” items to free up cash for debt repayments
Here are three simple steps you can take to get out of credit card debt.
1. Find a Payment Strategy You’re Comfortable With
With a simple budget in place and having your expenses under control, the need and urge to use your credit card will be reduced greatly. Your budget will free up cash as a result of reducing your “want” expenses and the extra cash will make it easier to create your own credit card repayment goal and system to achieve it. Having a concrete repayment goal and strategy will also help keep you in check as well as keep your debt from growing. Here are some examples of great debt management payment strategies:
- Debt Snowball: The snowball method of paying uses your sense of accomplishment as motivation by paying off your smallest balance first, while still making the minimum payments required on your other debts. Once the smallest debt is paid off, close that account and roll the payment towards your next smallest loan, and so on. This creates a snowball effect where your contributions keep getting bigger as you progress, much like how a snowball gains weight and volume as it rolls down a hill. Even though there may be arguments that this method might be more costly than the avalanche method, it often makes feel better by building momentum and paying off debt. It’s a great feeling when you have mini victories.
- Debt Avalanche: Similar to the snowball approach, the avalanche method just swaps your priorities and instead of paying off the lowest balance credit card balance, you start by paying off the debt with the highest interest rate. This one tends to be a faster and cheaper method of snowballing
- Automate: Automating your payments through your Bank or Credit Union or online apps is also an easy way to ensure your debts are being paid on time; thus avoiding any potential for late payment fees or additional interest.
- Pay More Than the Minimum: It is worthy to consider that credit card issuers will typically require that you make a monthly minimum payment of 2-3% of the balance, but be mindful that the interest charged for each month could be 1-4% which effectively reduces what is applied to the principle debt. Paying more than the minimum required payment will speed up the debt being paid off and reduce the interest you have to pay.
2. Consider Debt Consolidation
If your credit is good, but your debt payments feel a little overwhelming, talk to your financial institution and consider consolidating them into a single loan & monthly payment. This brings all of your debt under one account, which is a lot less overwhelming than having multiple debts from different organizations and institutions. If this option is feasible, be sure that the consolidating lender is not charging more interest than what you are currently paying; and be sure to close the consolidating credit card accounts.
3. Work with Your Creditors
It never hurts to reach out to your creditors to explain your situation as some creditors & collectors may be willing to give you an interest discount as long as you pay on time. A credit card issuer may also be willing to negotiate payment terms, offer a hardship relief program, reduced interest rates or waive fees; so make sure you take advantage of these if you have the chance.
Climbing down from a mountain of debt, credit card or other is hard to do… but it is doable. If you are determined to find a way to get out debt, following these three simple steps will find you in a better financial position as long as you stick with it.
If you need help solving your financial problems, Paul J. Pickering and Associates Limited is just the partner you need. We specialize in Debt Management, Consumer Proposals, Bankruptcies as well as Debt Counselling in London, ON. Contact us today and let us help you make a fresh start.