Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Getting Out From Under the Mountain of Credit Card Debt

Credit cards Français : Cartes de crédit Itali...
Credit cards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all know that credit cards are a convenient way to pay for purchases when you're on the go or in between paychecks. According to The Nilson Report, as cited by Forbes, credit card transactions made up for a little over half of total consumer spending in 2012.

Unfortunately, those very benefits also make it incredibly easy to find yourself under a mountain of debt that could take years to pay off. To top it off, you're losing money each month in interest and fees as you pay the balances down. With a little planning, you can chip away at your credit card debt much faster, but you'll need to decide which approach works the best for you first.


The debt 'snowball' approach to credit cards is fairly simple. Determine a budget and decide how much extra you have each month to put towards credit cards while covering all your other expenses. Cut out unnecessary spending, such as restaurant meals, as much as possible for now so you have more to put toward your debt clearance.

List all your credit cards in order of total balance from smallest to largest. Each month, put all the extra money you have toward your smallest card and only make the minimum payments on the rest. Once a card is paid off, apply the minimum payment for that card to the next card on the list in addition to whatever you're able to apply based on your budget. As you work your way through the list, you'll see the 'snowball' effect as your payments become larger and larger, working the debt down faster and faster.

The debt snowball method is beneficial in that it's easy to follow, and the results you'll see will encourage you to stick with it. But you may not be paying the debt in the most advantageous way regarding interest using this method.

Interest Order

Under an interest order approach, you'll still need to make a budget to determine what you can afford to put toward your debt, but you're changing the payment order. Instead of listing debts by balance, you'll list the credit cards in order from highest APR to lowest APR. The interest method saves you money by reducing higher interest balances faster, but it isn't as simple as the debt snowball.

Before you commit to a method of credit card debt elimination, try to decide which method is most likely to keep you motivated over the long term. While you can save more over time using the interest order method, it may not be ideal if you're the type of person who needs more immediate results to keep yourself on any sort of program.

On the other hand, if you're a numbers person, the interest order approach may work better for you than the debt snowball method because you'll be keeping a tally of your savings. Regardless of which way you decide to go, make sure to cut as much spending as possible to work down your debt quickly. 

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