By Alanna Ritchie | Debt.org
Paying off an enormous amount of credit card debt is not usually as simple as occasionally reminding yourself to spend less and budget more. Sure, cutting back is a place to start, but it will take a more developed plan to reach the long-term goal of debt-free living.
Here are three easy to understand steps for taking complete responsibility of your borrowing habits.
1. Avoid Adding to the Debt
Handling a massive quantity of credit card debt requires making big changes in your spending and savings habits. The first way to address the debt is by stopping it from growing any larger. If you haven’t cut up your credit cards already, get out the scissors. This precautionary measure prevents you from returning to using your credit card after you make a little bit of progress. You will find it easier to eradicate a debt which is shrinking, instead of growing.
The next major way to stop the debt cycle is by switching your spending to cash. You might think the solution would be switching to a debit card, as this is linked to money you have in an account, but making a transition to cash removes the temptation of plastic card swiping from your life. Paying in cash will require you to plan ahead and figure out how much you will spend.
2. Get a Calendar
Improve your ability to make on-time credit card payments by putting together a calendar of debt information. Having a visual reminder will save you from forgetting payments or getting charged late fees. Include income information on the calendar to prevent over-drafting. This will be your guide to regularly addressing minimum payments — and paying more than the minimum when you can afford it.
Here is the data to add to this calendar:
- Date payments are due
- Date payments are made
- Date paychecks come in
- Amount owed for each payment
- Total balance of credit card debit
Regularly update your total balance so that you can celebrate the progress you are making. If you have a longer calendar, mark down when you’ve paid off a quarter, half, then three-fourths of your debt. Debt will be less overwhelming when you can see that it is decreasing.
3. Increase Your Income
Once you’ve addressed the first two concerns – stopping your debt from growing and tackling regular payments—it’s time to knock some bigger chunks out of your debt. One way to make more than minimum payments is to increase your income, which will look different for different people.
You may decide it’s time to haggle for a raise at work or put in overtime hours. If this is not an option, you may want to search for a part-time job to work on weekends. Adjusting to more work can be exhausting, but remember this is a temporary schedule as you can return to normal hours after significantly reducing your debt.
While you are involved in this slow process, you are doing more than just stopping the endless creditor phone calls; you are paving the way to a better credit score, which may enable you to one day finance a house or become eligible for the next job you pursue.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College.