Managing Credit Card Debt

Almost all of us use credit cards, and almost as many of us carry balances over from month to month on at least some of those cards. All of us know this is not a good idea! Making the decision to get out from under your credit card debt is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make.

Once you have made that decision there are a number of steps you can take to help you dig your way out.

Get out of denial about how much money you actually owe. Pull out all of your statements from the previous month and really look at them. As shocking and painful as this might be, it is absolutely necessary. Get out a sheet of paper and list each card indicating the following: the total amount due, the minimum monthly payment, the available credit and the interest rate.

Call each credit card company and ask to have your interest rate reduced. This can be a hard step for most of us, but it can prove to be very beneficial.  Do not get frustrated and start cancelling your credit cards. Cancelling credit cards will adversely affect any future negotiations with the company, and will negatively affect your credit rating.

If you have a card with a low interest rate and enough available credit, transfer some of your higher interest rate balances to that card. If not, shop around for a new low interest rate card. Try your bank, and also look on Any amount that you are able to transfer away from high interest cards will save you money and reduce the amount of time needed to get rid of your credit card debt.

Once you have taken advantage of all the balance transfers you can, it’s time to start whittling away at the total amount owed. Always pay at least a few dollars more than the minimum amount due. Even if you only round it up to the nearest ten, do it. Send your payment as soon after the bill arrives as possible to save interest charges and to avoid any chance of late fees.

Now you need to zero in on the card with the highest interest rate. Determine how much you can afford to pay on that card each month and do it. I can hear you now saying that you don’t have any extra money to spend. It doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it is not putting your health and safety at risk.

Find something to cut out: coffee, beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets, your morning pastry, whatever. Set that money aside and send it to that credit card company. If you have to take a second part time job, if it doesn’t affect your health and safety, do it. Something you should not do: find the extra money by neglecting other bills.

Once that card is paid off take the amount that you have been sending to that credit card company and add it to the payment on the card with the next highest interest rate. Remember that balance will be considerably lower by this time because you have been paying on it the whole time you were paying extra on the previous card. Keep repeating this until all of your credit card debt is a thing of the past.

While you are paying down your credit card debt there is one other thing you absolutely must do: Stop using your cards. Adopt an all cash policy. That is the only way you will be able to eliminate your credit card debt once and for all.