Are you struggling to figure out which financial goal to tackle first? Retirement savings? Emergency fund? Or credit card debt? While all three are important, paying off your credit card debt can have a significant impact on your financial goals. It can save you money on fees and interest while also boosting your credit score. If you have a significant amount of credit card debt, don’t worry. You can pay it off sooner than you think by implementing these five manageable debt management strategies.
Put Yourself on a 1-Year Debt Payoff Plan
A solid one-year debt payoff plan involves breaking down your goal into small, achievable pockets. Let’s say your credit card balance is $10,000 with a 19.07% APR, and you make a $300 payment each month. If you only make the minimum payment, it will take you four years to clear your balance and cost you over $4,000 in interest. However, if you put yourself on a one-year payoff plan and pay approximately $950 per month, you can pay off your credit card in just 12 months. Use an online calculator to determine the exact monthly repayment amount for a one-year payoff plan.
Use a Tried-and-True Debt Payoff Strategy
Now that you have a plan and a goal, it’s time to choose a debt payoff strategy. Here are a few common techniques:
Pay More Than the Minimum
Paying more than the minimum payment can significantly reduce your interest. Even adding a small amount each month will make a difference. For example, if your minimum payment is $300 and you can add an extra $50, you can save almost $1,500 in interest and pay off your credit card debt a year faster.
If you have credit card debt spread across multiple cards and need a motivational boost, the debt snowball method might work for you. Focus on paying off the smallest debt first. Once you clear the smaller balance, you can move on to the larger ones. While it might not save you as much on interest, it can give you a sense of progress and motivation.
The debt avalanche method is ideal for multiple debts with varying interest rates. Arrange your debts from the highest to the lowest interest rate and prioritize paying off the one with the highest interest first. Although it may take time to see results, this method can save you more in interest and reduce the overall time it takes to clear your credit card balance.
Consolidate the Debt
If you have multiple credit cards with debts and prefer a single monthly payment, debt consolidation might be a suitable option. There are two ways to consolidate credit card debt:
Debt Consolidation Loan
If you have a good credit score, consider applying for a debt consolidation loan. With a lower interest rate compared to credit cards, a consolidation loan can save you money. After approval, the lender will deposit a lump sum into your bank account, which you’ll use to pay off your credit card balances. Then, you’ll make monthly payments to the loan rather than multiple credit cards.
0% APR Credit Card
Some credit cards offer a 0% promotional interest rate for balance transfers. By transferring your balances to a 0% APR credit card, you can avoid paying interest during the introductory period. This option is suitable if you can pay off the balance before the promotional rate expires.
Seek Help Through Debt Relief
If none of the above options seem feasible, you can explore debt relief options. Here are a few to consider:
Debt settlement involves negotiating with your credit card issuers to pay less than the total amount owed. This can be a viable option if you have a lump sum to offer. However, debt settlement can damage your credit score and isn’t guaranteed to succeed.
Debt Management Program
Working with a nonprofit organization, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), can help you create a manageable repayment plan. Credit card companies may reduce interest rates and fees, making it easier for you to repay your debts. While this method may impact your credit score, it can be a good choice if you need professional guidance.
Bankruptcy should only be considered as a last resort. If you have significant debts beyond credit card debt, consult a bankruptcy attorney. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to work with your credit card company and a judge to create a three-year repayment plan. However, bankruptcy can have severe consequences and should be approached with caution.
Earn More with a New Side Hustle or Job
Increasing your income is an effective way to pay off your credit card debt faster. Consider taking up a side hustle or finding a better-paying job. Side hustles can provide immediate extra income that you can put towards your credit card balance. Look for gig economy opportunities or freelance work in your field. Alternatively, seek career opportunities with higher salaries or remote work options to allocate more earnings toward your debt.
Remember, paying off $10,000 in credit card debt is achievable. Implement these strategies and stay committed to your goal. With determination and a solid plan, you can become debt-free and pave the way for a brighter financial future.