When it comes to making purchases, such as picking up groceries at the corner market or grabbing that beautifully knit sweater at your department store, what do you use to make your transaction? For most Americans – 40% in fact – the answer is your credit card. Yet, with this comes credit card debt. There is a rapidly growing credit card debt problem in the United States simply due to the fact that making purchases and subsequently making partial payments is easy. Flashing plastic and receiving those groceries or that to-die-for sweater provides us with short term happiness until we receive the monthly bill. This monthly bill can add up quickly, thus making it so hard to eliminate credit card debt. With high-interest rates and a seemingly low partial payment, it’s far too easy to rack up $10,000 in debt in the blink of an eye. If this sounds like you, or perhaps someone you know, it’s time to find debt help. Credit card debt can truly be crippling stress to deal with, and one that can be avoided – or eliminated – for good.
Here’s how to eliminate credit card debt without bankruptcy – creating your very own debt relief program in 6 easy steps
1. Add up all of your debt.
How much do you really owe? Consider the following:
- How many credit cards do you have, and what is the balance on each?
- What is the interest on each of your cards?
- How much is your minimum payment, and can you increase your monthly contribution?
- How many other areas of debt do you have accounted for? (Think: car payments, bills that have perhaps been avoided or unnoticed and more).
When you’ve added up all of your debt (we recommend doing so in a spreadsheet so you can really see the totality), it’s time to get real about debt help. Tell yourself that you are going to make changes, and they are happening now. Then, proceed to step two…
2. Pay the credit card with the highest interest first.
Consider this for a moment – millions of Americans will be outlived by their credit card debt. Now, go ahead and read that again. Isn’t it scary?
This is why, when making a decision to become your own set of debt advisors for your family, it is important to pay off the highest interest rate card first. This card is costing you the most (if you have multiple cards), as your accrued interest is the most significant month over month. Any extra income you have should go toward this card.
3. Set a budget.
Whether you have a spouse, family or simply live on your own, you must get your finances organized.
Begin by creating a spreadsheet with your income per month. Determine what the “essentials” of living are in your household by creating line items for the following:
- Rent or mortgage
- Food and nourishment
- Strata (or other living bills)
Then, add items that are non-essential:
- Entertainment/”going out” funds
- Shopping money
- Car payments/Gasoline
- And so on…
Once you have indicated what your essential and nonessential expenses are, you can appropriately indicate where you can save, and where you can spend; where you can allocate to debt payment and where you can enjoy a night out every once in a while.
Setting a budget will help you keep your spending in check – and help in ultimately developing a payment plan for your debts. You might discover that you can add an additional $100 to your credit card payments every month, or perhaps you can cut cable and allocate this money to your other debts. This exercise is important in discovering just where your hard earned cheque is going.
4. Stop using your card.
When speaking with debt advisors, the first thing they will tell you is to stop using your card – and they’re right! When making payments to your credit card, stopping the use of such cards all-together will not only help in understanding exactly where your money is going, it will also (naturally) help pay your debts faster. Without money being added to such debts, you will no longer rack up uncertain expenses or bills.
5. Pay off one card at a time.
Much like paying off the credit card with the highest interest first, it’s important to pay off one card at a time – otherwise, you are simply spreading your minimum payments too thin. Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make the minimum payments on all cards (you should never skip a payment) – simply contribute your extra funds to one card at a time.
A wonderful bit of advice is to make two minimum payments per month, if your budget allows. This results in lower interest charges month over month, and is a great way to pay off one credit card at a time.
6. Get professional debt help.
Last, but certainly not least, seeking the help of a debt relief program or debt advisors can be the key to your success. Sometimes we cannot settle debt simply because it’s beyond our capabilities, especially if your debt has become truly unmanageable. It is at this point when searching for a professional can help make changes faster than you could do on your own.
One such way is through debt settlement. Debt settlement is a strategy whereby you negotiate with your creditors to accept a partial payment instead of a full payment to cover your debt. This takes professional help, at times, and a great negotiation strategy with your creditor. If your creditor agrees, you pay a percentage of the outstanding debt and the rest is cancelled. This is an excellent way to avoid bankruptcy if such a result is in the cards for you.
When it comes to eliminating credit card debt without bankruptcy, know that you are not alone. There are so many Americans just like you – those who are searching for debt help either on their own or through the help of debt advisors or a debt relief program. When going through this process, follow our 6 recommended steps to help lead the way. Your new life is waiting for you on the other side of your debt!