It’s 2019 and the credit card debt you had from last year continues to follow you around. Credit card debt can be crazy expensive and difficult to manage, so I understand why dodging it would seem like the right option. But credit card debt doesn’t just happen on its own. It can be the result of unforeseeable circumstances and reckless spending.
Julie Ford, a member of The National Association of Personal Advisors (NAPFA) said, “you are going to have to deal with the debt and pay what you owe”. The best way to handle this problem is to pay off your debt as soon as possible.
This guide will teach you different ways to take care of your credit card debt and show you how to keep it from getting out of hand again.
Get back in good standing.
Missing credit card payments can drastically lower your credit score. If you’re not sure how much you owe, call your cardholder and get that balance, and figure out what the minimum payment is. Although some people believe otherwise, paying the minimum won’t worsen your account. You want to continue making payments until your account is “current”/”on time”.
Another strategy to getting caught up is to pay off the balance with the highest APR. Check your balances and check their interest rates. The one with the highest APR is the one you focus on first. Once that’s paid off, move on to the next, and so on and so forth.
Limit your spending.
It’s very important, especially when you’re trying to pay off your credit card, to cut out unnecessary spending. Monthly subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, or Spotify may need to be placed on hold while you get your account back in good standing. It may be wise to quit using your credit card altogether. Don’t worry, it’s just until you’ve set everything straight.
But hey, life happens. If you have to use your credit card, use it only on items that you can pay off and don’t make it a habit.
Before you can even get close to paying off your debt, you have to get yourself organized. Keep track of everything! This includes bank statements, due dates, payment information, and interest rates.
To help get organized, figure out exactly what it is you owe, how many cards you have, and any recurring habits you may have had that led to you being in debt. Then you’ll know how much you owe monthly for each balance (don’t forget, find the minimum payment for each). Getting organized will help keep you from making the same mistakes again.
Create a budget
Creating a written budget will keep you out of trouble in the future and will help you keep better track of your spending. Make sure that you’re doing monthly check-ins on your money to ensure that you stay on track.
It may even help your credit card debt if you create a fund specifically for paying off your debt. Set aside an amount that you can add to so that you don’t fall behind on your minimum payments. Then, you can divide up the rest of your money for your other expenses like the Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify.
Have an emergency fund
We all know that emergencies happen and why they do, they can put a huge dent in our finances. Suddenly we’re pulling out of all our secret stashes just so we can cover this unexpected bill. Typically in this situation, we run to our credit cards for emergency money. But right now, the credit card IS the emergency.
Put aside an emergency fund so that you don’t have to use your credit card when something comes up. Remember, we don’t want to just pay off our debt, but we want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Set a financial goal.
Credit card debt is something that builds over time. So what finally made you decide to get rid of your debt? What do you want? How will erasing your debt help you get those new J’s of those on sale Fashion Nova jeans?
Having a financial goal will help you stay focused on managing your money and will keep you driven. You have to walk before you can run, so start small. Accomplishing smaller goals will help you achieve bigger ones in the future.
I hope these tips have helped and that you feel more confident to tackle your debt. Credit card debt does not have to be a pain in your life, and you have the tools to get under control and keep it from taking over. Here’s to a debt-free 2019!
Dorathy has an economics minor from York University in Toronto, Ontario and worked for one of Canada’s largest banks. She will share her own financial tips and keep you updated on current finance news.