The last thing you want to do is spend your money on credit card debt. But, the longer you take to get rid of your credit card debt, the longer you’ll have to pay it. The best way to avoid dealing with burdensome debt is to go ahead and pay it off.
If you want to pay off your credit card debt, the first thing you must do is come to grips with how much you owe. You can’t pay off your debt if you continue to avoid it. So, go through your latest credit card statements and write down each credit card, the interest rate, current minimum payment, and the total amount you owe.
You can also use your credit reports from the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to help you figure out what you owe on your debt. You can order a free copy of each credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Once you have your credit reports, compare the credit card accounts listed on them to what you’ve already written. Update your numbers and write down any accounts you’ve missed. Finally, number your credit card accounts in order from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. For example, the credit card with the highest interest rate will be number one.
The next step is to figure out how much you can afford to pay on your credit card debt each month. Use your budget to see what you have leftover after you’ve paid all your bills for the month. If you don’t have a budget, you can create one to help you manage your spending and determine whether you have enough money to pay your credit card debt.
When you have your budget ready, the key number to pay attention to is the “net income.” This is the amount of money you have leftover after you’ve paid all your bills. It’s also the what you have available for paying off debt. If your net income is negative or you don’t have enough left over to make a significant impact on your credit card debt, review your expenses to look for ways to cut back. The more you can cut back on your expenses, the more money you will have available to pay off your credit card debt.
There’s a specific process to follow when you’re paying off several credit cards. You’ll pick a credit card, the one that’s first on your list, and pay all your available income toward that credit card. On your other credit cards, you’ll simply make the minimum payment. Continue sending a large, lump sum payment to that one credit card until you’ve completely repaid it. Then, once you’ve paid off the balance, cross off that credit card and move to the one that’s next on the list. Keep going until all your credit cards have been paid off.
It’s important that you always make your minimum payments on your credit card, even if you can’t make your lump sum payment in a particular month. That will keep late payments from going on your credit report and help you maintain your credit score.