When utilized properly, credit cards can be helpful assets. After all, they can provide cardholders with rewards like cash back and travel perks. However, it is has become all too easy to misuse these accounts, whether by carrying a balance for too long and accruing interest, or by treating a line of credit as an endless source of money.
Although these poor financial habits are not necessarily new, they certainly have reached new heights, as the United States recently surpassed $931 billion in total credit card debt. When examined on a more granular level, that figure equates to approximately $15,983 in credit card debt per household.
It is important to remember that credit card debt is often accompanied by other forms of debt as well, from mortgages to student loans to medical expenses. Therefore, it is imperative we highlight some effective methods of lightening one’s financial load and ultimately eliminating their credit card debt.
Thoroughly review your card member agreement
A recent survey revealed that only 39 percent of respondents were certain of their credit cards’ various annual percentage rates (APRs). In other words, approximately 59 million Americans have little to no idea of how much interest they are paying per month.
Ideally, one would research a credit card before even submitting an application. However, that step is clearly being skipped by many cardholders. If you fall under that category, it would be wise of you to take some time and learn everything you can about each of your credit cards. Note their respective APRs, as well as how large a monthly payment you would need to put a sizeable dent in each balance. Once you gain a better understanding of how your cards work, you will be better equipped to combat your debt in the long-run
Along that same vein, it would be beneficial to create a plan that would ultimately lead you to pay off all of your debt, rather than just your credit cards. There are a solid number of strategies dedicated to this feat alone, including:
- The snowball method. By taking this approach, individuals must prioritize their debt by amount and focus on paying off the smallest balances first. Once you have paid off your first balance, you will roll the amount you were previously paying into the amount you are contributing for the next-smallest balance, and so on.
- The debt avalanche. Similar to the snowball method, the avalanche approach swaps your priorities. Therefore, you would focus on paying off the debt with the highest interest first, rather than the smallest balance.
- Avoid the minimum payment. If the previous two strategies are not feasible for your financial situation, the next best option is to simply make more than the minimum payment per month. Although this approach is not quite as quick as the avalanche or snowball methods, it will be more efficient than making minimum payments that will ultimately be counteracted by interest charges.
Debt is a frustrating, and sometimes crushing, burden. However, it is not impossible to remove yourself from the financial obligation, no matter what some experts and media outlets may say. All one requires to reach this goal is a consistent cash flow, a surefire plan, and a positive mindset; the rest will be resolved in time.