Do you feel like you just can't get ahead with your debt? You work so hard all week long to earn a paycheck, and it never seems like it’s enough to clear your debt. It can be a very deflating feeling. You need a get out of debt plan.
You are paying minimum balances on your credit cards, and the amount owed never seems like it's going down. What gives?
There is 1 main step that you can do, to start tackling your debt and paying it down. I am going to show you all about that one step and how you can use it to get out of debt.
If you want to know a few other tactics that you can use to start eliminating your debt and some strategies you can use to pay off your debt and prevent it from happening again, then keep reading.
First, let's lay the foundation of healthy ways to handle your household money. Without a solid game plan and foundation, you will still feel like you are spinning tire with your finances.
Surefire Ways To Get Out of Debt Fast On Your Own
Here are some great ways you can get on an effective path to clearing your debt.
Understand and confront your debt
The most important step in laying a foundation to pay off debt is to understand what all you owe.
There is no easy path to managing your debt if you do not have an understanding of what all you have outstanding.
Here's how you can start to organize your debt:
- Make a list of everything that you owe and how much
- On your list, include the interest rate
- Write down your minimum payments
- Write down the due dates
- Take the time to look up your usernames and passwords to your credit cards and loans so that you can get the information you need.
If you take the time to write this all down in front of you, it will allow you to see the big picture of your situation. It could also alleviate some feelings of overwhelm because you can see it all in one spot.
Take the initiative to pull your credit report so that you can see who all your creditors are and how much you owe.
Get organized to get out of debt quickly
Now that you have a good understanding of what all you owe, you can organize what day of the month you pay them. This will help you avoid late payments because you won't forget to pay it.
- Update your email address on your accounts that you owe the balances to. This will help those companies stay in touch with you so that you don't miss any important communications.
- Take the time to go through your statements and be certain that there aren't any errors as far as charges.
- Have a good plan as far as what day you make your payments. You can coordinate with when you get paid.
Beware of doing all this work to make a good list to get organized, and then not ever referring to it again. You need to look at your list from time to time.
It will also feel empowering when you get to change the amounts of your debts on your list. You should do that about every 3 months.
Use a calendar system so that you do not forget to pay some of these debts per month. You can set them up online for automatic payments, or do one-time payment every month, etc.
Using some kind of phone reminder, or written down on a calendar somewhere is going to be imperative.
If you forget to make a payment, do not wait until it is due again next month. By that time, it is possible that the creditor already reported it to the credit bureau.
Instead, make the payment as soon as you remember.
How to get out of Credit Cards Debt
Take a look at all your credit cards that have balances on them, and see which one has the highest interest rate.
The one that has the highest rate, is the one that is eating up a lot of your hard-earned money. The higher the interest rate, the harder it is to get rid of the balance owed.
What do I mean by that?
This means that more of your money that you pay on this card each month, is going toward a lot of interest instead of the principal balance. Ugh! Not what you wanted to hear huh.
Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to tackle this debt. Credit card debt can be tough to get under control. Actually, managing your family's finances, in general, is tough. There are some easy basic solutions that do exist, for how to manage your family's finances.
Let's talk about that 1 step that is instrumental in getting rid of credit card debt.
Tackle Your Card that has the Highest Interest Rate
A great plan to tackle credit card debt is to go after the highest interest rate card that you have.
In the long run, if you end up making payments on a smaller interest rate card, you are still making headway. However, you are then not taking full advantage of how you could be using your money.
It is better to tackle that high-interest card and get that taken care of.
Make the minimums on your other cards, and go after the higher rate card as aggressively as you can.
You will save a lot of money by knocking out this high-interest card.
Attack one credit card at a time. Pay the minimums on other cards and put all extra money you have, aggressively onto the highest interest rate card.
Request A Lower Interest Rate
Call your credit card company and ask them to do a review of your account and request a lower interest rate. A lot of times, you are due for an account review anyhow, and you can potentially secure a lower rate with the company.
If you do not take the time to call and ask them, then it will never happen. A credit card company will usually not mail you a letter to tell you that they lowered your rate. So, you have to take the initiative and call and ask them. The worst that can happen is that your request is denied.
If you succeed in this and get a lower rate, then you are well on your way to getting that card paid off! Even more of your monthly payment will be going toward your principal balance now, Woot! That's the goal!
Check out this article that has a great script for what to say when you call the company to ask them to lower your rate.
Don't assume a credit card company won't give you a lower rate. Take the initiate and call to ask them.
Don't Use Your Cards
Have you ever heard the expression, cut your cards? Ok, well, cut your cards!
If you are trying to get rid of your credit card debt, then do not use them anymore. It will defeat the purpose of making your payments. Most credit cards have such high-interest rates, that it's hard enough to get your balance to come down after making a payment.
If you continue to make purchases on your cards, then any payment you make is going to be negated by a purchase. So, don't do it! It is so easy to be an impulsive spender, and just “put it on the card”. We have all done that.
Since you are trying to get your credit cards under control, you have to make some adjustments to spending habits.
Change the habits that got you into debt
A really good place to start getting out of debt is to stop doing whatever it was that got you into debt. For some people, it was not avoidable. But for others, it was definitely avoidable. If you are in the category of, it could have been avoided, be honest with yourself about how it got like that.
Then change those behaviors.
Keep accounts in good standing
We all understand that there is only so much paycheck to go around. It is difficult to repay balances that have already gone to collections.
Keep the accounts that are in good standing, good. Those are the ones to focus on and where to apply money to.
If you try to pay the collection items and charge offs first, then you risk not having enough money to make payments on the accounts that are good.
Then what could happen is that those good accounts start to have late payments and such.
So, focus on the good accounts over the ones that are already not good.
There are some ways that you can adopt more of a frugal lifestyle in order to help get out of debt.
Here are some ideas for what you can skimp on:
- The cable. We live in a society where so many movies and tv shows can be found online now. Why not cut the cable bill and use that money to put towards paying your monthly debts.
- Eat at home more. Meal planning and grocery shopping should be your new best friend. I know so many people say they are terrible at meal planning. If you just spend 20 min every Sunday to pick out what your family is going to eat for the week, you can make a grocery list and go shop. Then you can cut the eating takeout expense.
- Save with coupons. Take the time to use coupon apps on your phone to help you find deals in your local grocery stores.
- Break up with expensive habits or hobbies. Tobacco use, gourmet coffee, fast food, lottery tickets. Whatever it is, stop doing it for right now so that you can help yourself get out of debt.
- Find free ways to have fun. The library has DVDs, books and tons of other stuff you can sign out. For FREE! If you join your local community email list, they are always advertising free things going on in the community.
- Have as many “no spend” days as you can. Pack your lunch for work, cook dinner at home and don't spend money on anything else that day.
- Explain to your family that you are on a budget. Once you explain to everyone in the house that your spending is going to change, they are more apt to get on board.
- Tell your kids no. Once you explain to them that the family is on a budget, don't buy them whatever they want, whenever they want.
- Shop for clothing at discount stores. Plenty of towns have consignment shops or other awesome places to shop that is for a fraction of the cost of a department store.
- Use Facebook marketplace to find free stuff. People are always posting items for free. Take advantage of it.
- Sell some stuff. You can sell some items in your house that you could spare. Hit up online resources or even have a yard sale.
Hopefully, you have some tools in your tool belt that are going to help you tackle your debt. Being in debt causes a lot of emotions such as overwhelm, frustration and a whole slew of other ones.
Just be sure that you are working hard and smart to correct your situation, and you will come out great.
Keep your financial goals in front of you and it will strike great motivation for you to keep plugging away.
Andy is a blogger at Penny Less Dad and a financial writer associated with the Oak View Law Group. He is a debt expert and a member of several online forums where he shares his advice as well as tips to lead a financially independent life.