How many years have you carried so much credit card debt that you’ve never been able to get to a zero balance? Or, even if you once zeroed out those credit card balances, it wasn’t long before you were in over your head with credit card debt again.
Even when you’re committed to paying off debt, medical debt, car repairs and other unexpected emergencies can keep you mired in credit card debt with little hope of eventually becoming debt free, at least when it comes to credit cards.
The good news is that you can take steps to show yourself and others that you’re serious this time about paying off credit card debt so you can put that extra money towards life goals, savings or even a well-deserved vacation.
Read on for four steps that can help you commit to paying credit card debt off for good.
1. Tell others about your commitment
If you’ve been slinking around hoping your friends, family and coworkers won’t find out about your debt troubles, it’s time to fess up so you can receive support for your debt payoff goals.
Let people know that you have a plan to pay off credit card debt. You may be surprised at how many other people you know are in the same, sinking boat. Then support each other with ideas to pay off debt faster and stay out of debt so you can all reach that zero-balance shore together.
Consider enlisting a “debt buddy” or forming a support group where you and others can hold each other accountable on your progress and offer encouragement. Then whenever one of you pays off a big debt, go out and celebrate the accomplishment together.
2. Find the budget method that works for you
Not every type of budget suits everyone. Some people want to scratch out their budget by hand on a legal pad or using an online budget template. Others may want the budgeting and personal finance guidance and advice found on many budgeting apps.
The key is to choose a budgeting method that appeals to you and the way you think and work. That way, you have a better chance of sticking to it to pay off debt faster.
Find out: Build a Budget That Works for Your Goals
3. Scale back on lifestyle choices
How many subscriptions and memberships do you charge to your credit cards? How many times a week do you dine out or go for drinks with friends? Are you an impulse online shopper for clothes, electronics and other gadgets?
If so, that may be how you got trapped in debt in the first place. Even if your debt was caused by medical bills or an expensive home repair, cutting back on non-necessities for a few months, or even several months, will free up money that you can pay directly to your credit card debt.
Come up with a plan to change your lifestyle and habits so you can have extra money each month. The plan might include working out at home instead of going to the gym or taking your lunch to work so you’re not getting takeout or going out to eat with coworkers. Maybe you could cancel several streaming services and only use one temporarily.
The point is to scale back on spending and then apply all that money towards credit card debt. Then every time you have extra money, apply it to your credit card debt, even making multiple payments each month.
4. Seek credit counseling
There’s no shame in asking for help putting together a budget and debt payoff plan. You can receive free (or nominal fee) credit counseling at a local nonprofit credit counseling agency.
Think your debt situation is impossible to recover from? No need to worry. Most credit counselors have helped people with much higher debt than yours tackle credit card debt.