Credit card debt is easy to get into and difficult to get out of.
Prior to heading off to college, my mother told me that credit cards could be my best friend or worst enemy. She continued by saying that keeping the balances low and making timely payments was the sound thing to do.
Unfortunately, I ignored the warnings and found myself in more credit card debt than I wish to admit only a few years later. Even worse, I figured that only paying what was required each month couldn’t possibly do any harm.
Boy, was I sadly mistaken. And when I decided to dig into the “underworld” of the credit card industry, I discovered the minimum payment trap was one of the primary revenue drivers for credit card issuers.
Desperately searching for a way out, I decided to these simple tactics that you should also consider if you’re drowning in credit card debt.
1. Freeze the Cards
While this technically isn’t a way to get out of the hole, it’s the first step towards eliminating credit card debt. Reasoning: if you continue to swipe away, any payments made will offset the balance increases.
You may be thinking freezing all your cards is a stretch, especially if you don’t have an emergency fund intact. If you’re in this boat, keep the card with the lowest credit line at your disposal and commit to only using it if it’s absolute emergency.
2. Financial Windfalls
Tax season is right around the corner and you know what that means. Hefty bills for some and refunds for others. If you’re fortunate enough to fall into the latter category, consider allocating a large portion, if not all, all of your tax refund to credit card debt. It may be a bit painful to kiss thousands of dollars goodbye, but your wallet will thank you.
The same rule applies for work bonuses, financial gifts from family and friends or any other windfalls.
3. Create a Spending Plan
Want to automate your debt-repayment efforts? Create a realistic budget and stick to it. That way, every dollar will have a name on it before the month starts and your credit card debt balances will have no other choice than to increase. And while you’re at it, tackle the most costly debts, in terms of APR, first.
4. Sell Some Stuff
We all have unwanted items lying around the house collecting dust. So why not place an advertisement on Craigslist or host a garage sale to make a little money? It will take some effort, but you’ll rid your home of clutter while axing debt.
5. Use Your Talents to Boost the Debt-Reduction Fund
Do you enjoy walking dogs or babysitting? Maybe you’re a great event planner or artist? Whatever your talent is, use it to boost your debt-reduction fund.
Before transitioning to the world of entrepreneurship, I took writing gigs on the side to help pay down credit cards. Can’t think of anything? A part-time job is always an option.
Excessive credit card debt isn’t the end of the world. By acknowledging the problem and taking aggressive action, you will be on your way to financial freedom in no time.
What tactics have you taken to wipe out credit card debt? Please share in the comments below.