5 Easy Ways To Reduce Credit Card Debt

April 16, 2010

Did you know that according to census data, the average American household carries nearly $8,000 in credit card debt? For some, that’s manageable. But for most households, it signifies a pattern of overspending and paying outrageous amounts of interest. Here is some advice on how to reduce your credit card debt.

Being buried in credit card debt is far from uncommon. But that doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be. Carrying a high balance on your credit card – or worse, several credit cards – can take a big bite out of your budget. You might only be able to pay the minimum payment each month, and that does very little in the way of paying down the principal. In fact, most credit card companies set a minimum payment that only covers interest in an effort to keep you in debt as long as possible.

Unless you like the idea of paying thousands of dollars in interest by the time you get your debt paid off, it’s in your best interest to pay off your credit card debts as quickly as possible. Here are some ways you can accomplish that:

  • 1) Find room in your budget to pay more than the minimum payment each month. Ideally, you should pay as much as possible toward credit card debt to eradicate it quickly. But if you’re on a tight budget, you may only be able to pay $5 or $10 more each month. If this is the case, put it toward the card with the highest interest. And keep paying the same amount even if your minimum payment decreases.
  • 2) Keep paying as much as possible toward the card with the highest interest each month until the debt is paid in full. Then move on to the card with the next highest interest. But instead of just putting $5 or $10 extra toward it, pay the minimum payment on it plus the entire amount you were paying toward the debt you just paid off. This is called snowballing, and it’s a very effective way to get out of debt. Continue snowballing your debt until all of your cards are paid off.
  • 3) Consider consolidating your debts onto a low-interest credit card. This can save you a tremendous amount of money, but you’ll still need to pay more than the minimum payment if you want to be debt-free. And don’t take the opportunity to charge up those high-interest cards again – cut them up if you must.
  • 4) Try to negotiate with your creditors if you can’t even come up with enough money to pay the minimum payment on each of your debts each month. Many are willing to work with you in order to ensure that they will be repaid. They might lower your payments and interest rate. And in some cases, they will settle for a lower amount than you actually owe.
  • 5) Consider undergoing credit counseling if your creditors aren’t willing to negotiate with you directly. A credit counselor will work with you to set a budget that will allow you to pay as much as possible toward your debts, and if necessary negotiate with creditors on your behalf.
  • Paying off credit card debt isn’t always easy, especially when you’re in over your head. But if you’re serious about getting out of debt, it can be done. By putting as much money as possible toward eradicating your debts, you can breathe easier and save yourself lots of money in the long run.

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