Getting that piece of plastic with expendable credit may initially seem like a newfound freedom — until you receive your bill, and little by little the balance starts to add up. It can be fun while it lasts, but eventually you end up in an even worse financial state than when you started. It can be overwhelming and no one wants to find themselves in that situation. Our culture of consumption is partly to blame, as it has widely taken over our lifestyle, which subsequently pushes more Americans to take on more debt than they can afford. There’s nothing more liberating than not having debt looming over your head. Clearing up credit card debt is the first step you can take toward financial freedom. Read on as we look at a few strategies for how you can pay off your credit card debt.
Divide your payables into manageable chunks
Divide and conquer. Tackle each chunk one at a time to make your debt more manageable. Though the total amount will not budge from where it was if you don’t do anything, the tactic of dividing your total debt amount into smaller chunks can help clear your headspace. This approach will allow you to tackle your debt as it will feel less intimidating. This goes for any approach: if the amount of debt is huge, you can break it up into smaller repayment schedules. For different credit cards, paying each one off one by one can work. Just ensure that you are up to date with your payments and remember to pay the minimum amount required plus a bit extra to go toward the principal amount owed in order to reduce balance and avoid penalties and late fees.
Prioritize paying off credit cards that have a higher interest rate
Interest rates can inflate your debt the longer it takes you to pay it off. The amount you owe may remain, but the interest in the form of finance charges is constantly running each month until you pay off the amount you owe. High interest rates equate to high finance charges added on top of your monthly bill amount. The trouble with this high-interest setup is that it will take you longer to pay off your loan because the majority of the payments you make will be applied toward the finance charges. This results in you ending up paying for half, double or sometimes triple the amount you owe, on interest alone.
If you have multiple cards, pick the card with the highest interest rate. Focus on paying it off as fast as you can, then move on to the next.
Focus on paying smaller debts to build momentum
Another strategy that may be helpful is to start off by paying off the credit card with the smallest balance. Would you choose paying off a $20,000 debt over a $3,000 one? Obviously you would choose the latter. It may work as a form of decluttering so you can put your focus on the bigger payment once the smaller ones are out of the way. To be fair, it feels good to accomplish little tasks before you start to tackle the big ones. It can provide more motivation to take on bigger challenges (in this case, bigger debts.)
Look out for 0% APR credit card offers
Banks and credit card companies will sometimes offer promos from time to time, such as those with reduced interest rates on the first year or 0% APR on the first six months. These offers look attractive and can be helpful. That grace period gives you some rest from paying off more finance charges than the amount owed. They can even allow you to pay off your debt before finance charges start to kick in.
Look into consolidating your debt
Debt consolidation is an option offered by banks in the form of an unsecured personal loan. This can help you pay off your debt from several different credit cards in one go, so you can focus on paying off the larger loan with lesser interest and lower monthly payments. Take a moment to review the interest rates on each of your credit cards and inquire about the interest rate and payment duration of a personal loan. If you can get a loan for a significantly lower interest rate, go for it. Typically, these types of loans are payable within three to seven years, which makes it a great strategy to save on interest in the long run.
Paying off debts that feel like they’re coming at you from all directions can be daunting. If you can start from a place where you feel comfortable, while maximizing all the savings you can get, that’s a good way to start. Once you’re able to clear these financial burdens, making smart money choices going forward is the key to strong financial health.
For more helpful financial tips and resources, Calcite Credit Union has your back for any of your financial needs. From credit cards to savings accounts, and a wide variety of loans and mortgage options for select areas around Michigan. Visit us at calcitecu.com to learn more!