Tis the season, when consumers are spending a ton of money to provide loved ones with gifts and fancy meals. Chances are high you’ve spent more than you should have and charged many purchases on credit cards. As soon as the holidays are over the looming reality of credit card debt hangs over many people.
Unfortunately, credit card debt is one of the most difficult types of debt to escape from. With the average credit card carrying an annual interest rate of about 20%, even small amounts of credit card debt can quickly become uncontrollable. Consumers struggling with credit card debt might benefit from these simple debt control tips.
Make More than the Minimum Monthly Payment
Credit card minimum payments consist of only two or three percent of the entire balance. Paying only the minimum means paying a maximum amount of interest over a longer period of time. Increasing monthly payments substantially cuts the amount of interest consumers ultimately pay on credit card debt.
Take Advantage of Balance Transfers
Consumers carrying credit debt on high interest cards should consolidate that debt onto cards with lower interest rates. Often cards offer low or zero percent interest rates as a promotional device, so care should be taken when seeking low interest credit cards. Other cards may carry penalties for those who may try to transfer balances within a 12 months of opening a new account.
If credit debt can’t be consolidated onto lower interest cards, then those balances that carry higher interest rates should be paid off first. Bank loans may help consumers consolidate credit debt.
Stop Using Credit Cards
Credit card debt can’t be escaped if consumers continue to use their credit cards. Those attempting to get out of credit card debt should stop using all cards. While some financial experts recommend using money from savings accounts to pay down credit card debt as far as possible, this should only be done if emergency funds are kept. A lack of emergency savings only guarantees that credit card debt will grow in the future.
Spend as Little as Possible
Start with 30 days of no spending. Every single time you want to buy something, just stop. You likely do not need what you are buying. This can be an eye opening experience for many and could lead to lifelong changes.
Take the eat out of the pantry challenge. Do not eat out for a month. Instead, sort through all the food you already have in the house and figure out ways to combine items and eat at home. Try not to buy any groceries until you’ve already eaten all the food in your fridge and pantry. You may be surprised to see home much food you have on hand and how long you can go without visiting the grocery store.
Escaping Credit Card Debt is a Long Haul
Credit card debt is one of the most difficult types of debt to pay off. Many consumers spend months or years paying off unsecured debt from credit cards, and some may even turn to home equity, 401(k)s and life insurance policies to borrow the money they need to consolidate credit card debt. While it may take patience and time, paying off credit card debt isn’t impossible. For many, the peace of mind that being out of credit debt brings is well worth the sacrifices required.
If you’ve struggled with credit card debt, chances are you’ve messed up your credit. Ruined credit can prevent you from obtaining certain jobs, getting a car loan, and more. As you pay down debt and make on time payments your credit will slowly recover. However, this is a slow process and you may need more extensive help. For professional help repairing your credit, contact Lexington Law. They offer a free credit consultation.