Having credit card debt is like drowning in quicksand. Once you get in, it's very easy to continue sinking deeper and deeper and it's very difficult to get out. Luckily, there are ways to start chipping away at your credit card debt immediately. Here are nine practical tips for you to try.
1. Pay attention to your finances. Many years ago, the only way to track your finances was by balancing your checkbook by hand. Long gone are those days. There are many online tools and smartphone apps available (such as Mint) that can help you manage your finances.
2. Understand how you got here. The key for getting out of debt is to understand how you got yourself in this mess, and to truly want to change it. Is your credit card debt the result of unforeseen medical expenses or large car repairs? Do you make too many impulse buys? No matter what got you in this predicament, be honest with yourself so you can start to get out of it.
3. Stop accumulating more debt. Sounds obvious, right? However, the most obvious solution is often the hardest. Starting immediately, stop adding to your mountain of debt. You may go about this by cutting up all your credit cards. If you think you may need them in the future for an emergency, stick them in some water and literally freeze them. Waiting for them to thaw out will give you time to think about if you really need to use them or not.
4. Create a budget. No, budgets are not just for stay-at-home moms or college students. Budgets are useful for anyone who manages their own money. List all your income, and subtract all your necessary expenses such as rent or mortgage and utility bills. Anything left over can go toward your credit card debt. For the best results, consider going over your budget monthly, as your income or expenses may change.
5. Create a get-out-of-debt plan. You might be thinking that creating a plan is difficult. I mean, if it were that easy, why isn't everyone debt free? The truth is, all it takes is a few simple steps. The key to getting out of debt is to really want to be out of debt and to follow through with the plan. Start by making a list of all your credit cards and the debt amounts. Here is where strategies can differ. You may choose to pay off your credit card with the highest interest first, eventually saving you money in interest. Or you may choose to start with the smallest debt so you may see results quicker. The choice is up to you. After paying the minimum balance on all your other cards, take any remaining funds (remember the leftovers in your budget?) and put it all toward the balance of your chosen credit card.
6. Transfer your balances. If creating your own debt plan isn't your cup of tea, there are other ways to start getting rid of your debt. Open a new credit card that offers no fee balance transfer and a zero percent interest rate. Transfer as much of your highest balance as you can, and then start to chip away at it while saving in interest.
7. Cash in some investments. Depending on how high your credit card interest rates are, and how high your balances are, you may choose to cash in some of your investments and use it pay off your debt.
8. Talk to you creditors. If you've explored other options and your debt still isn't budging, try negotiating with your creditors. Contact them and request a lower repayment schedule. If you truly are in a debt crisis, let them know that this is your last resort before filing for bankruptcy. Creditors want to protect themselves against a total loss and may be more apt to work with you if they know what your next step will be.
9. Consider debt counseling. There are many organizations out there that specialize in it getting people out of debt. Turn to your favorite search engine and look for credit counseling services or debt doctors in your area. If you think you can handle your situation on your own, look for credit counseling courses at your local college or church.
Credit card debt is easy to acquire, but can quickly become overwhelming. If you're ready to start getting out of debt, try out these nine pointers. With them, you can start chipping away at your mountain of debt, and relieve that burden off your shoulders.
Buck Kim is a money-saving writer for couponloco.com and loves to give tips on how to save money. You can find him at your local market annoying shoppers behind him with his stack of coupons.