You or someone you know will most likely deal with some type of credit card debt. But you can avoid credit card debt, and pay down your debt faster, if you are disciplined and determined not to let your credit cards control you. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Pay more than the minimum balance. If you have credit card debt that you carry month to month, this is one of the best ways to pay down your debt as fast as possible. When you pay more than the minimum balance, you are decreasing the number of months and years that you will continue to owe on the credit card, thus avoiding future debt.
2. Reduce fees by paying on time. Late fees can really add up and contribute to high credit card balances. A late fee of $35 charged three times adds over $100 to your balance. Continued late fees can also cause higher interest rates on future balances, leading to a spiral of debt that doesn’t end. To avoid going down this path, do everything you can to make your credit payments on time every month.
3. Leave your card at home. If you truly want to begin decreasing your credit card debt, begin leaving your card at home. Doing so will prevent impulse purchases of items you don’t really need. If you have trouble doing this, try leaving your card(s) at home two days a week and work up to doing it every day.
4. Don’t sign up for department store credit cards. Department store credit cards have some of the highest interest rates, and opening multiple store credit card accounts is an invitation for debt. Don’t be enticed by offers of 10-20% off a first-time only purchase; it won’t be worth it months down the line when you’ve racked up an additional bill that you will have difficulty paying.
5. Toss the junk mail. Our mailboxes are constantly inundated with junk mail, much of which are credit card offers from various companies that send you clothing, furniture or other types of catalogs that include an offer for a credit card. Ignore these offers, and quickly throw them into the trash.
6. Establish an emergency fund. It’s good to establish an emergency fund for several reasons – car and home repairs, medical emergencies, etc. However it can also be used for those months where it seems you are in over your head in bills. Be careful however and make sure that you are not dipping into your savings regularly to pay credit card bills. If you are, it’s probably time for you to cut up your card altogether, or find help from a financial counselor.
If you follow these tips, with a little discipline, you can reach your goal of decreasing your debt, and eliminating credit card debt altogether.