Taking out a new credit card for the first time is a huge, exciting milestone. You suddenly find yourself with access to more money when you need it. Of course, this is all money that needs to be repaid on time. If you miss payments the interest will start adding up and you will find yourself in more debt than you bargained for.
This is a path you want to avoid if possible, but if you do find yourself here, don’t stress.
Tips to get out of credit card debt
Get in the Right Mindset
There is no point in tackling your credit card debt unless you are ready to make changes to your financial spending. Otherwise, anything you achieve will be short term and you will find yourself back in the same situation again and again.
The first thing to do is to take a look at your finances and see where all your money is going. While occasionally, bad credit card debt can be the result of an unforeseen circumstance, such as a medical emergency, for most people they arise as a build-up of spending beyond your means.
Go back through your credit card statements from the past year with highlighters:
Green = necessary expenses
Orange = luxury expenses
Take a look at all your items that are highlighted orange and see what you can cut back on.
Other tips including leaving your credit card at home on trips to the shops so that you aren’t tempted to spend on things you don’t need, and keeping track of all your credit card expenses each month, and putting the card in a safe place once you have reached a limit you are able to pay back on payday.
Once you have had a look at your finances and attempted to get them in check, you are in the best position to get yourself out of credit card debt and to stay out.
Techniques you can use to tackle your credit card debt:
Got multiple credit cards all with debt owing? Tackle them one by one. This is the perfect way to give you that initial confidence boost to fuel the rest of your debt repayments. Don’t just ignore the other cards in the process. Make their minimum repayments each month and then work on the one card to pay back the debt.
Pick your card with the lowest balance owing and start with this one. This will be the quickest to pay off and will get the ball rolling for you. Once you have paid the smallest, move onto the next smallest until you are just left with the largest debt owing.
Whenever you come into a little extra money, no matter how small, you send it to the credit card company to put towards your debt. Rather than mindlessly spending every extra $5 you come across, you will find it can add up nicely if you send it in. Think of it as, out of sight and out of mind.
This is the opposite of the snowball effect, where you start by paying off your most expensive credit card first and work your way down. This method tends to be faster and cheaper, but it can be a lot more intimidating when you first start.
Go for a Lower Interest Rate
It can’t hurt to ask, right? Ring up your provider, and assuming you have a good credit history and made timely repayments see if they will reward you with a lower interest rate to pay off your debt. If you can shop around and get a lower rate from a competitor, then it is worth mentioning this in the phone call as a little extra push.
Take Out a Consolidation Loan
It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking out a personal loan can help you pay off all the debts while saving a little cash in the process. The interest rates on personal loans tend to be lower than those of a credit card, so if you do your homework and find a good deal, you could end up saving by using this approach. Of course, you still need to work off paying the new loan now.
Ask for Help When You Need It
If all else fails, ask for help. There is no point sitting there and getting further and further into debt with no way out. There are plenty of debt relief options out there that you can choose from, including:
You can have someone advocate for you to negotiate new terms, either a lower balance, lower or no interest rates, to help reduce your debt and make paying it off easier. In return, you pay a fixed amount each month, which is then applied to your debts across the board.
Part 9 Debt Agreements are a formal agreement where your debts are managed. This step is to avoid bankruptcy and does impact your future credit rating.
As a last resort, when you simply cannot pay your debts is where you can file for different types of bankruptcy depending on your situation, but it does come with serious long term consequences so must be considered it wisely.