Many consumers have been in credit debt for so long that they believe that debt is a way of life. They don’t even think about getting out of debt anymore because they don’t think it’s even possible. But the question consumers should be asking is:
Is it still possible for me to get out of credit card debt, and if it is, what do I need to do to be debt-free?
The answer to this question is: Yes, with discipline and commitment. You must commit to a payment plan and you must discipline yourself to stick to that plan and pay with cash or debit only until you’re out of debt.
Some of the tough questions you also need to answer are;
How many credit cards do you carry a balance on?
How long have you been using your credit cards to sustain your lifestyle?
Did you subscribe to the “minimum payment scam” and you now find you’re in trouble because you can’t pay off your balance with the money you make?
Have you been “living beyond your means?”
Your “means” is the amount of income you receive from your job or any other source of income that you may have. Your “means” does not include the amount of credit you have available on the cards in your wallet. Credit cards are not free money. You use it, you must pay it back. And if you don’t pay it in full by the due date, you have to pay interest and hidden fees that you may not even be aware of.
There are many ways to get control of your credit card debt.
- You can try to go at it alone and create a strict budget and stick to that budget until your balance is 0.
- You can talk to a credit counselor and try to consolidate your debt. This might make things easier for you to get your credit card balances paid down faster by reducing the amount you owe.
- You an stop using your credit while you have a balance because there is no grace period on new purchases if you carry a balance
- You may use a debt roll-up or a debt snowball strategy.
You may be asking – What is a debt roll-up or debt snowball strategy?
With this strategy you pay the minimum payments on the cards with the highest balances then put the rest of the payment that you can afford to the card with the lowest balance. Once that card is paid off, add the payments that you were making on that card to the card with the next lowest balance. Continue with this strategy until all your debt is paid off! None of your credit cards should be used while you have outstanding debt. And when you get out of debt continue to live within your means and stay out of debt!
Staying away from credit card debt is not rocket science but it will take some serious dedication and discipline. Learning to tell yourself NO and stopping yourself from making that purchase using a credit card is a very hard thing to do. Instead, create a budget or put money away in a savings plan for that purchase you want to make or put the item on lay-a-way. Many stores offer lay-a-way plans. Some have even brought lay-a-way back these days to help people make purchases they wouldn’t have been able to make otherwise.
The best way to stop increasing your credit card debt is to stop using your cards. Plain and simple. However, there are lots of perks to using credit cards so I don’t advise you to do that. But to capitalize on these perks you must retrain yourself in the way you think about money and about spending your money. It all comes back to discipline. A lack of discipline will lead to your experience with credit cards as a never-ending cycle of high interest, late charges, and over-limit fees amassed every single month, which is a sure way to increase your debt to astronomical heights.
Getting and staying out of credit card debt is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family’s financial future. So here are a few recommendations as to how you can stay out of credit card debt without having to cut up your cards.
- Pay your balance in full every month
- Save for an emergency fund to take care of unexpected expenses
- Before you make any larger purchases, think about it for a month or 2 to determine if you really need to make that purchase
- Focus more on buying the things you need and not the “nice to haves”
- Commit to increasing your financial intelligence and learning how to use credit cards effectively to capitalize on earning reward points that can be redeemed for cash backs, plane tickets, and gift cards.
- If you don’t want to commit to learning, then make the promise to use credit cards only in an emergency.
- Call and ask your bank to lower the interest rate for cards that have high-interest rates
- If you have to use your credit card for an emergency and you cannot pay off your balance in full by the due date, transfer the high-interest balance to a line of credit. Lines of credit tend to have a much have lower interest rate than credit cards and the interest charge is simple interest. This alone could save you hundreds of dollars in interest payments over time.
The credit card is one of the greatest inventions. It gives you access to interest-free money for at least 21 days every month — provided you pay your balance in full by the due date. A lack of understanding of how credit cards work and how to use them effectively can lead to a lifetime of debt and unhappiness.
Everyone can be free from credit card debt, start your deb roll-up strategy and your financial literacy journey today!