Eliminate Stress of Credit Card Debt with these strategies. If the balances on your credit cards are stressing you out then read these things you can do to help out.
- In the US total credit card debt is $40 billion less than in 2019 but is creeping toward $850 billion
- Americans rank credit debt as one of the most stressful financial problems in their lives
- Many could manage this debt easily by changing to an improved spending pattern with new habits
Americans all over are feeling the squeeze of monthly credit card bills. Credit cards are notorious for carrying some of the highest interest rates so it doesn’t take long to get into trouble if you’re not paying off your monthly balance.
One of the biggest problems is when you look at credit cards as the answer to having the lifestyle you want i.e. buying all the goods you desire. The problem is that credit cards just like any loan need to be paid back and like any loan that comes with a price.
When you carry a balance on your credit card you are charged the APR you agreed to when you accepted that bank card. The problem is in addition to paying a large amount of interest each month, that next month you’re not only paying interest on what you bought that month but on the previous months that you didn’t pay the balance in full.
Examples of Credit Card Debt Interest You’ll Pay
Say you bought $1000 worth of goods and services in April but only paid $35 dollars per month. If your credit card has an APR of 16.5% which is the average last year then you will pay a total of $259 in interest over 3 years. And, that’s only if you don’t make any new purchases on top of the initial $1000.
If you spend $5,000 on various goods and services at 16.5% but make a minimum monthly payment of $200. Not only would it take you 31 months to pay it off but you would also pay $1,169 in interest.
Credit Card Debt Differs
While the average APR or interest rate for credit cards in the US is 16.5% they can be even higher, significantly over 20% APR. This can be scary stuff if you don’t know what to do about it and/or don’t think you have options.
Yes, there are things you can do to reduce or eliminate your struggle with credit card debt but this is all about you. There is no one that is going to swoop in and take all that debt off your hands or at least no one you want to get mixed up with!
Yes, credit cards are great for some things like not having to carry money, a temporary loan while you’re waiting for your next paycheck or one place to track your spending. As you can see from the examples above, credit cards are not for long-term loans due to their high APR’s and the amount of interest you’ll pay over time.
The big changes need to begin with how you manage your money and your debt. Taking responsibility and tracking your spending is the first big step.
How Can I Make a Budget?
Use a simple spreadsheet or just a list of what you have to spend money on each month. Rent, car payment, medical, etc. From that total, subtract how much you earn each month. That new number is how much you have left over to put in the bank to save or to spend. Sticking to that amount and no more is the way forward to being debt free.
But, if you currently have debt, you’ll need to include an amount to spend each month to pay down that debt. If you don’t, the interest on your debt will continue to grow.
If you need extra help, a financial advisor might be for you. While their fee may seem expensive, in the long run, they could save you a bundle.
I Have Several Credit Cards, What Should I Do to Eliminate Debt?
It can be even worse when you have several credit cards that you are trying to juggle or keep track of.
You may want to consider consolidating your debt. You can make a bank transfer of your credit card balances to one credit card. Be sure to choose the credit card that offers 0% interest on that balance for the longest period possible. Some offer up to 12 months interest-free.
If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to pay off the balance in 12 months (or the amount of interest-free time offered by the bank) then choose the bank with the lowest APR.
Also, take into account any fees to make the transfer. Usually, it’s a small percentage of the total balance you’re transferring.
You could also take out a loan to pay off all the balances. That consolidates your debt into one more manageable place to pay it off.
If balance transfer isn’t an option then look at your highest interest rate cards and target those balances first. This is called the Avalanche method. Taking care of first the ones that are costing your the most. After your tackle the most expensive then take on the next most expensive and on and on it goes until you have it all under control.
Look at it as a challenge to accomplish! You can get a great sense of satisfaction from this.
Why Should I Care If I Don’t Payoff My Credit Card Debt?
- Your debt will grow quickly and get out of control. When you don’t even make the minimum payment then you not only pay interest on your balance but you’re then paying interest on your interest. Not only that, you will incur late fees – $12-25/month.
- Your credit history will be hurt. This means that in the future if you want to buy a home, car, or even just get a new credit card, lenders will think you are not a good risk and turn you down.
- Your mental health is key and if you are too stressed about debt it can negatively affect all parts of your life – relationships, work, and fun.
Read this… How Can I Pay Off My Credit Card Debt?
Can I Improve My Credit Rating By Eliminating Debt?
- Each month, pay off your balances in full
- Cancel any cards you do not use (those that are paid off in full)
- Talk with your credit card company to see if they can help by reducing the interest rate. This will give you a better chance of paying off your debt sooner. Less debt that you can pay off monthly, means better credit score.
Credit card debt can be a cloud over your head but controlling it is all up to you. Take responsibility for your spending by putting together a budget that shows how much you can spend each month and try not to go over that. Whenever possible, strive to be debt-free so you can have the best credit score possible for future loans on important things like homes and cars. Find out your credit score now.