With the cost of living increasing faster than the growth of average income, it is no wonder why credit card debt has become so common. On average, 38.1% of all households have some kind of credit card debt according to the February 2017 report found on valuepenguin.com. Most recently, balances have reached a towering five figures and have grown almost every year over the past decade.
My theory is just as a health crisis in the medical field requires educating the public for progress towards a cure, solving the credit card debt crisis will also require some helpful information from within the industry. So here we are doing our part and sharing the secrets of our effective plan of attack for credit card debt. Be thorough in applying these following steps and by the end you will be confidently managing your debt like a pro.
Your Plan of Attack
1. Analyze your spending habits (then change them).
If you are carrying credit card debt, you are most likely spending more than you are making. It is important to take some time to track where your money is going. I suggest browsing a complete bank transaction history for a telling glimpse at what you are spending money on. You can also try one or all three methods of spending management suggested by Todd Christensen. He lays these out in detail in his blog, “Everyday Money for Everyday People.”
Ultimately, the goal of these exercises is to determine how much money you have to spend, and to distinguish between necessary spending and excessive spending. From here forward you’ll be able to cut back, and eventually eliminate the purchases that created your debt in the first place. Having no new debt will give you the time needed to gain control of your current balances.
2. Create a Visual of Your Debt.
For this step, you’ll want to sit down with all your current credit card statements and compile the information into one chart such as a debt repayment worksheet. This will include at very least the credit card company’s name, interest rate, minimum payment amount (or maximum you can afford, whichever is higher), and current balance for that card. Be sure to prioritize your debt and list the most important or pressing balance at the top and work your way to the least important at the bottom. Finally, figure out the monthly amount you’ll be paying towards all these credit cards in total and make a note of it. Just having your debt laid out will relieve stress from being disorganized, but it will also be more exciting to visually see your progress as balances decrease.
3. Roll Over Payments.
At this point, you will be updating the current balance of each card monthly on your worksheet. Once the top priority debt is paid, add the payment for that account to the next on the list. This way you are maintaining the total monthly repayment amount (since you already know you can afford it) and you are paying down your next account in a quicker amount of time.
*If any of these steps seem overwhelmingly complex or you worry about having the discipline necessary to be successful, it may be time to seek financial counseling.
There is no other secret, shortcut or simpler way. How long this process lasts depends almost entirely on how much debt you are trying to resolve. However, we have proven that following our plan will help you get rid of your credit card debt within five years. And no secret to you, acting now will ensure your financial freedom comes sooner rather than later.