Drowning in Debt? Start with Little Wins.
Paying off credit cards can be a little like doing your taxes. You have no idea where all the money went and all you want is for the entire situation to be over. The problem is that, like the IRS, a lot of credit card debt won’t go away overnight. You have to celebrate the little wins that make it easier to stay on the path to becoming debt-free. Try one of these approaches, and you will start to see your credit card debt going down a little each month. Here are two idea on how to pay off credit card debt.
OPTION 1: Pay Smallest Debts First
The easiest way to make some progress is to look at your bills and figure out which one is the smallest. You can put your extra money toward that one debt, while you continue to make the minimum payments on the others. This allows you to see the biggest possible reward happening quickly. Once that debt has been paid off, you can work on the next one. As you see your debt dropping successfully, you are more confident and motivated to tackle the next one.
- Easier to figure out where to start
- Pay off smaller debts faster
- See progress sooner
OPTION 2: Target the Highest Interest Rate
Another approach requires a bit more homework on your part. With this trick, you gather all of your credit card bills and figure out which one has the highest interest rate.
Take the highest-interest debt and put your extra income toward paying it off, and just pay the minimum on everything else. It can be tempting to start paying off your car loan or student loans if those are the biggest monthly payments, but those interest rates are often far lower. Paying the highest-interest debt decreases the amount of money you pay each month in interest, the primary problem that keeps people in debt.
- Decrease amount of interest paid faster
- Focus payoff goals on the biggest debt-producer, not the biggest payment
- Improve awareness of overall debt situation
Celebrate Progress, Big and Small
When you first start working to pay off your debt, it’s easy to get discouraged because the total drops so slowly. To help the habit stick, you have to build in little rewards to motivate you to stay the course. If you are one of the millions of Americans with an average credit card debt of about $16,000, you should know that every extra dollar you pay to your debts will result in less interest paid, and a faster route to getting out of debt. Set an initial goal of paying off $500 or $1,000 in debt, and then give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back when you reach it.
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Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.