Being in credit card debt can be a scary thing. Especially during uncertain economic times. Managing your credit card debt can be very intimidating, especially if it’s gotten out of hand. Did you know the average American has over $8,300 in credit card debt? That why I created this guide to help walk you through getting a plan to handle your credit card debt. This post will help you get organized, help you analyze your current credit card debt situation, and show you how to get out of credit card debt the smart way.
Before we dive into paying off your cards, let’s first get an idea of where you are. Work through these steps first.
Stop Using The Cards
The very first order of business is to STOP using credit cards. You are not going to be successful paying your balances off if you are still using the cards. So, first things first, shred those cards, get them out of your wallet, out of your online wallets, and out of the rotation for purchases. If you are serious about getting out of debt, stop using those cards immediately.
Make a List
Next, you must get organized and know exactly where you are on your bills. Make a list of all the credit cards you have and note the total balance due and the minimum payments due for each card.
Update Your Budget
Make sure you have an updated and accurate budget. Before you start trimming and altering the budget, you want to know exactly where you stand each month.
If your credit cards are WAY out of hand and you are already incredibly late on your payments, you need to get going on contacting each of your credit card companies and working out a repayment plan with them. You will be surprised how flexible and helpful some credit card companies can be! But you won’t know until you ask.
Bank or Credit Union
Your local bank or credit union may have some help for you in the form of a kind of personal loan. You can get a personal loan and pay off your higher-interest credit cards and have lower monthly payments to get your debt under control.
Ok, now we have the initial analysis done. We know exactly where we stand and which credit card companies we owe what to. Now, what do we do to get going? There are two simple ways to start working on your debt. The solutions are both very simple, and I advocate doing both things to maximize the money you have each month to put towards your credit card debt. The trick is… your income needs to go up and your expenses need to go down.
First of all, you want to lower your expenses as much as possible. And there are SO many ways to get creative to get your expenses lowered an astonishing amount.
Cut Extra Expenses
Cut out expenses that are extras and non-necessary immediately. These are things like subscription boxes, cable, drive-throughs, expensive coffee’s, etc. The list goes on and on and on. I’ve got a great article here about how to save $615 this month without even noticing.
Negotiate Lower Rates
Spend some time calling all your vendors you deal (not just credit card vendors) with each month and make sure you are getting the best and lowest rate possible. Call your car insurance, home insurance, cell phone provider, internet service, and anyone else you have a contract rate with. Call and ask to review your bill and see if there are any ways you can save a little money each month.
Use coupons for everything! Especially use them for groceries, clothes, meals, car maintenance and service, and gifts! You name it, if you can use a coupon for it, do it! You can really save a lot of money, especially on groceries, if you use coupons when you shop. Combine coupons with items already on sale and you can really save some money!
I always like to get things on sale. Paying full prices is just not something I do. I can almost always wait for something to go on sale if I need it. And you can really save a ton of money buying something on sale.
A good example is if you are buying clothes for your kids, you can shop the clearance aisles now for next year’s clothes in a size bigger and REALLY save some incredible amounts of money.
Take advantage of sales and snag up good deals when you can! That will help your wallet out a ton!
So, we’ve lowered the expenses as much as we can. Now, it’s time to increase the income to help us have more money to put towards the credit card debt. So, how can you increase income, you ask? Oh, there are tons of ways!
First things first, get rid of stuff you don’t need.
SELL, SELL, SELL
Go around your house and assess if there are any big things you don’t need, like extra TV’s, furniture or exercise equipment. Use this article as a guide for all the hidden money you might find in your house.
Host a Yard Sale
Get all your odds and ends together and host a yard sale. You can make a few hundred dollars in just a few hours if you get your stuff organized and cleaned out.
So, we’ve sold all the things we don’t need. Now, what are other ways you could increase your income?
Ask for More Hours
You could ask for more hours if they are available at your work. You may be able to pick up a few extra shifts or do some additional projects to help boost your bottom line for a few months.
Ask for a Raise
If you are due a raise and can make a strong case for why you should get one, then ask for one! It isn’t going to hurt to ask, and you’ll probably be surprised how often your employer can help you get a little more money in your pocket.
Get a side job
If you can’t get more hours, and a raise is off the table, taking on a second, side job is a good way to go. This is providing that it can be worked into your schedule. Here are some good examples of ways to add in a side job:
You could be a delivery person or a driver for Lift or Uber. That would be a lot of driving and running around, so you might want to try that out before you commit to doing that kind of job.
If selling is your thing, there are tons of things you can sell out of your home and online. I’m talking oils, Pampered Chef, Parklane Jewelry, Norwex, Tupperware. You name it, you can probably sell it! That’s NOT my cup of tea, so I understand if it isn’t yours either!
There are tons of other kinds of online work you could do though! Check out this list of other jobs you can likely do from home for some extra funds:
Online Extra Jobs
- Graphic Design
- Virtual Assistants
- Medical Transcription
- Freelance Writing
- Start a blog
- Online Tutoring
- Resume Writing
- Sell Your Photography
There is always a lot of seasonal work available, depending on the time of year. The holidays are always popular to get more workers in retail stores and to help with package deliveries. UPS and FedEx are always looking for seasonal help in the busy holiday season. During the summer, tons of local farmers need help harvesting their crops. There are all kinds of seasonal opportunities if you keep your eyes open!
So, we’ve sold everything we don’t need. We’ve got our income increasing. What else can we do to address debt? Should you use your emergency fund to pay off the debt? (If you don’t have an emergency fund, read this to get started!)
To Use The Funds… Or Not
My answer on should you use your emergency funds to pay off credit cards is… it depends. I certainly would NOT deplete the entire fund for sure. If you wanted to use some of your emergency funds to get your ball really rolling on paying off your credit card debt, I could definitely see that being advantageous. Especially if you could knock all your debt out at once.
But everyone’s situation is different. That would be a measured risk to use your emergency fund for paying off that debt. But on the flip side, you’d be able to replenish your emergency fund rather quickly if you didn’t have to pay credit card bills each month! This all depends on your tolerance for risk.
So, honestly, whether to use some emergency fund money is totally up to you. I’m just saying, don’t totally empty the emergency savings account. It’s ok to be a little uncomfortable. A little uncomfortable will motivate you to get your savings back up to your comfort level as soon as possible.
Paying Off Credit Cards
Ok, now that we have all the extra money coming in, and we have cut all the expenses as much as we can, it’s time to start actually paying on these credit cards! So what’s the best way to go about it?
I like Dave Ramsey’s Snowball Approach.
You start with your smallest balance credit card first and pay it off. Then on to the next smallest, on to the next and then onto the next until you’ve worked your way through the credit cards. And once you pay one off, roll the amount you were paying on THAT card into the payment towards your next credit card. Your payment each month keeps going up as you eliminate debt. Like a snowball. Thus the name, Snowball Effect.
For example, You are paying $100 a month on credit card #1. You are paying the minimum of $60 a month on credit card #2. So, when credit card #1 pays off, you add that $100 to your $60 a month payment, and now you are paying $160 on credit card #2 each month until you pay it off. And so on, and so on.
While you are working on your debt snowball, focus on the card you are paying off at that time, and just pay the minimum payments on the rest of the cards. Once one is paid off, move to the next, and then the next.
And slowly but surely, one by one, those credit cards will pay off. By starting with the lowest balance card, you get some quick wins going and you feel like you are REALLY accomplishing something and you get traction much more quickly.
0% Balance Transfers
If you have the chance, and your credit score is good enough, transferring your higher-interest debt to a 0% credit card offers can be a smart way to go. You could buy yourself some time to make additional headway with your payments if you aren’t accumulating interest!
My Favorite Debt Resources:
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- How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?: Uncommon Financial Planning Wisdom for a Stress-Free Retirement
Wrap Up – How to Quickly Get Out of Credit Card Debt
So, to wrap up, we’ve covered lots of ways to get going on getting out of credit card debt. With just a few simple budget adjustments and some extra added income, you can be well on your way to digging yourself out of your credit card debt. The secret is giving yourself the best chance for a good outcome. If you are trying to shovel your way out of debt, I’d get the biggest shovel I could find! I hope this article helps you! Keep working your budgets and paying off your credit cards! I’d love to hear your debt payoff stories!! And as always, just keep shuffling!
- How Much Emergency Savings Do You Really Need?
- Save $615 This Month Without Even Noticing
- 9 Calls To Make Immediately During A Personal Financial Emergency
- There’s $2,500 Hidden In Your House
Carl Green says
I loved how you mentioned that you should work out a repayment plan with credit card companies if you’re very late on your payments. My brother is struggling financially and he was wondering how he could pay off his credit card debt. I’ll be sure to tell him that he should maybe talk to a lawyer about working out a repayment plan with his credit card company.
It wouldn’t hurt! Thanks!