It can feel like you are being completely overwhelmed when your finances are under constant pressure and you can’t seem to think straight or seemingly find a way to get yourself out of debt.
There is always a way to improve your situation and all it usually requires is a combination of short and long-term debt-busting strategies, along with a positive approach to your situation, and a desire to make some permanent changes in your attitude towards borrowing money.
Here is a look at how easy it can be to rack up debt on your credit cards followed by effective ways to pay off the balance as quickly as possible. There is a shocking insight into the true cost of credit card borrowing, plus some strategies to get out of debt.
When it comes to debt, you are not alone
The first thing to say is that you are not alone if you have managed to accumulate credit card debt without seemingly trying that hard to get yourself into that situation in the first place.
It is estimated that roughly a third of us carry some sort of balance on our credit cards from month to month, and that can soon begin to feel like a debt burden that is hard to deal with.
There are other short-term borrowing alternatives to get the cash you need in a hurry when you are hit with an unexpected bill.
But, when you take out a loan for a specific sum of money, you set a repayment program and have a date to pay it back by, which may or may not fit into your budget.
Credit card debt is often more open-ended than that, but despite the fact that you will need to make a minimum payment to your credit card company each month, it can often take a lot longer to clear the amount you owe on your credit card.
How those balances start to creep up on you
It wouldn’t be a bad idea at this point to have a bit of a reality check and understand what is happening to your money situation when you get dragged into an almost zombie-like state of just paying an amount to your credit card company each month and almost becoming immune to the size of the balance you have accumulated.
The minimum payment calculated by credit card companies should not be considered as the amount you should send to them each month. If you treat that strategy as the way to pay off your credit card debt, you are in a for a big shock when you sit down and actually work out what this will be costing you to borrow money this way.
If you owe a total of $12,000 in credit card debt and pay an annual interest rate charge (APR) of 15%. Paying back 2% of that balance each month would, at a basic estimate, ultimately cost you an eye-watering $18,368 in interest alone, and take you close to 360 months to clear the balance.
When you see the true cost of your credit card debt laid out in front of you like that, it is likely to provide you with the extra motivation needed to change your spending habits and find a way to pay down that debt as quickly as possible.
Get in line
If you have credit card balances spread across a number of different providers it can make sense to target the smallest balance first and get that paid off while continuing to make the minimum payment on the other balances.
Try to pay at least double the minimum balance on the card you want to clear first, then move on to pay double or more on the next card on your hit list.
If you are paying a higher interest rate on one card than another, look to target the most expensive one first or see if you can transfer the balance to a lower interest rate.
You might be able to find a card that is paying a 0% introductory APR for customers who transfer their balance to them. Even if that interest-free period is between six months and twelve months, that can make a big difference to the amount you eventually repay to clear your credit card debts.
Another option would be to consolidate your loans. If you find a personal loan that charges a lower interest rate you could clear your credit card balance this way and then repay the loan at a lower cost.
If you take that option, don’t use your credit card to run up another balance, or you could soon find yourself stressing about debt all over again.