Getting into debt can be really troubling! Before you know it, you’re essentially being crushed by minimum payments owed to seemingly everyone. It’s hard to get out of a scenario like this, but instead of feeling defeated by debt, you really have to work on strategies to overcome what you owe to these credit card companies in order to straighten your financial situation out.
According to the Federal Reserve consumer credit statistics for 2010, the amount of debt Americans bear on their credit cards totals $2.4 trillion. That’s slightly down from a high in 2008, but still a significant amount. Millions of people need to reduce their balances in order to get out of paying ridiculously high interest rates that are just like throwing money away when you pay for them.
The sooner you are capable of getting out of debt, the better. So here are some top tips that can help you to reverse the damage that is done by getting too deep into debt.
Get Your Money in Paychecks – Credit experts believe that there’s a psychological effect to actually holding real money in your hands. Try getting your salary in paper checks, and take that money to the bank. Then you can put money into your savings account as opposed to checking for money you need to pay off your balances.
Do You Need Debit Cards? – Debit cards may be even worse for you than credit. Many people do not pay attention to how much things really cost when using plastic. Think about it: that debit card in your wallet is directly connected to your bank account, and you can take money out whenever you want. D o you really need to access your cash like that?
Pay Off the Highest Balances with the Highest Rate – Start with your balances with the highest rate first, then go by balances. You need to eliminate as fast as possible the ridiculous interest rates that you are paying. Again, its money that can be better spent elsewhere so get rid of it as fast as you can! That’s what trips people up.
Consider Consolidation – The easiest way to do this is to transfer balances. Remember, you will have to pay a percentage fee to do this, but to go to a low or even zero percent introductory offer may be a better deal. If you’re credit is so bad you cannot do this, try calling your financial institutions. They deal with these types of problems every day so negotiate with them!
Eliminate the Unnecessary – There are a lot of things that we pay for we don’t really need. Stop going out to eat so much. For the most part, it’s not good for your health anyway. Take a look at monthly subscriptions that you don’t need for magazines, or even cable. Netflix will stream content for you whenever you want for $8 plus your internet costs, and that’s much cheaper.
Opt Out of Credit Card Offers – No matter what the deal is, you don’t need any more credit cards. The reason why companies are able to offer bonuses and low rates to people is because those who get into trouble with debt essentially pay for these services through atrocious credit card rates. If it’s not a balance transfer that allows you to avoid crushing interest, it’s worthless to you. Opt-out here.
Budgeting 101 – OK, it’s hard to stick to a budget. But do you know how much money you are bringing in versus how much is going out? The answer to this might lead to why you are in the position you’re in. Just find out how much your expenses are every month. And again, these expenses should be things that you actually need, not cable TV. You don’t need that to survive.
Get Creative! – Try to make this credit card problem as fun as you can. Find yourself some cheap hobbies. Art, musical instruments and cooking are cheap things to do. So are many sports. Find productive habits that don’t focus on consumerism. You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself as opposed to thinking you need more clothing or gadgets to make you happy.
Remember: paying off debt fast is possible, and you can do it, just make the problem into an opportunity.
Daniel Cawrey is a freelance writer and blogger. He regularly contributes to the CreditCardAssist Blog, which discusses consumer credit card topics.