How to Pay Off $10,000 to $15,000 Credit Card Debt Fast
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id you know the average American consumer has 2.6 (let's say 3) credit cards? This is according to a Gallup study; however, does this reflect if Americans are handling credit card charges responsibly? Not necessarily. Anyone can have multiple cards and never use them.
Something that should alarm you is the latest report produced by CardData.com, where they have studied the Top 100 US Credit Cards companies and found rising credit card losses and charge-offs at levels not seen since early 2013.
For example, Chase saw a 10.9% increase in credit card losses while Bank experienced a 4.3% loss. We are now witnessing a seven-year high in credit card delinquencies, and now is the time to get your cards paid off.
In this article, you will discover five steps in paying off credit cards that amount from $10,000 to $15,000. These are the best ways to pay off your credit card debt.
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1. Ask Yourself, "Why Are You Using Credit Cards?"
Depending on which study you review, the average credit card interest rate was 17.21% last December 2018. It has increased to 19.21% in 2019, with the average U.S. household has $16,000 in credit card debt.
But why are you using your credit cards in the first place? In many cases, you are just trying to get by. Perhaps, you need money for gas to hold you over until payday. Another reason is your grocery bill was higher this week compared to last week. It is everyday common issues that make it tempting to use those plastic cards.
While some claim that credit card spending is an addiction, the first step is to recognize its a problem. I tend to take it a step further to understand why it's a problem in the first. Below are additional steps to kick away your credit spending habits.
Let's be honest, who uses cash anymore? Most consumers have traded paper currency using plastic (debit or credit) as a way of convenience. It is faster, easier, and gives you a sense of safety instead of walking around with money. Also, many companies offer rewards and points as a way to entice new customers.
This isn't to claim that cards with points and rewards are bad. In fact, many cards have added benefits, but the issue lies in the lack of money management. If you aren't keeping your monthly bills paid on time with a plan in place to pay those off, then it is easy to fall behind and difficult to catch up later.
Odds are, you pay the amount on your credit statement and not according to your debt-freedom plan. For instance, if your card company requests a minimum payment of $55 for the month, but you normally pay $65, it reassures your brain you are going above-and-beyond and keeping your monthly bills paid.
In reality, without a plan, you may be overlooking the damage of those interest rates. Sometimes, you need to pay an additional $100 because that is what your debt-freedom payment states. Do not deviate from your plan.
Eventually, you are engulfed and can't keep up, which means you are more reliant on credit than before. If you are looking the fastest method to pay off your debt, then download the app, Debt Payoff Planner. I've personally used it and it's free. While you can pay for an affordable membership, the free platform meets the intent.
Article by CreditCards.com
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2. Know How Much You Owe
This is obvious, but you may be surprised to learn most households do not know precisely how much they owe. They have a ballpark figure in their heads, but since they have no debt payment plan, there was never any reason to know the exact debt figures.
In the first step, we mentioned understanding how and why you're in debt. Now that you understand why you are getting buried in debt payments, it is time to dust off your notebook and grab a pen. Using ink and paper, jot down every debt you owe. From medical bills to student loans, list those out in a column so you can visually see the debts.
When writing with something onto paper, it is likely to trigger your brain cells helping to enforce a desperate need of action. After listing all of your debts, you are going to list them again but from the smallest interest rates to the largest. Beside each debt and interest rate, write down the total balance.
In a recent Forbes article, "You have a high rate 20% interest credit card, with $10,000 balance and you make the minimum payment each month (this can vary but let's say it's $200). Of your yearly payment of $2400, $1900 is going to interest! Only $500 each year is actually paying the debt. At this rate it will take you over 9 years to pay it off."
It's time to get serious!
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3. Get a Plan to Pay Off Your Debt
Increasing your salary is very unlikely. This means you need to get a plan to start taking action. Start by reviewing your expenses and researching where you can cut back.
Next, you will need to fine-tune your monthly budget, ensuring every dollar has a home. This means any leftover income after paying your rent, groceries, bills, etc., any extra money needs to be designated to savings, debt payments, emergency funds, somewhere in your budget so it can be labeled. It's time to get responsible with your money.
After getting a budget in place, organize your credit cards from highest interest rate to lowest rate. You have two options here. You can either use the mathematical approach which will pay off your debt the fastest or if you are like most American households living paycheck-to-paycheck, organize your debt from smallest balance to largest balance.
When organizing your debt balances from highest interest to lowest, use the Debt Payoff Planner app as it will tell you exactly when your debt will be paid off to include how much to pay on each debt. It takes away all the guess work.
The other method, lowest balance to highest balance, only works if you are struggling to make ends meet. What this method allows you to do is make larger payments on the smallest debt while making minimum payments on the remaining debts.
After that debt with the smallest balance is paid off, you repeat the process with the next lowest balance to include that prior payment amount.
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4. Refuse to Use
The toughest part of kicking away your credit card habit is to stop using it altogether. While some claim it is an addiction, it is very much convenience and lack of money management.
After your credit cards are paid off, you must continue using a budget plan every month, assigning every dollar to a category, or try this budget planner to keep you organized.
Since your debts are now paid off, you have more financial flexibility, which means you can start creating new categories such as $200 for weekend entertainment, $300 for clothing, and more. This restricts your appetite from overspending in your budget while reigning in unnecessary expenses.
Achieving financial freedom is the greatest gift you can receive because it gives you the financial flexibility to travel more, enjoy life's blessing, reduces stress, and you may find you need to work less, etc.
Reflect on these goals or your own goals regularly to stay motivated. During the difficult times when money is tight, and you are tempted to use your credit cards, remind yourself of how painful it was to be in debt!
While I am not recommending your cancel your cards because this may temporarily harm your credit score, I do recommend cutting all your retail cards and keeping no more than two credit cards with $0 balances. If you have more than a few credit cards, then cut these up. The extra cards will cause additional distractions and temptations.
Recommended Article: How to Build a Budget for Your Home
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5. Transfer or Refinance
There are times when shopping around for lower interest rates makes sense. If you have $11,000 in credit cards with a 14% interest rate, you can save a lot of money by transferring to a low rate loan or to a credit card offering an introductory period of 0% for six months.
The biggest challenge after transferring is to continue with your debt payment plan. Having a 0% interest rate will drastically speed up your payment process.
If you have a mortgage, consider refinancing as mortgage rates continue to decrease. Even 0.25% can save you thousands over several years.
It is important to note that the cost savings of a refinance must exceed that of your closing costs. According to theMortgageReports.com, "Expect to pay anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of your loan amount in closing costs when you refi. Say you need to borrow $150,000. If the closing costs equate to 2 percent of the loan amount, that adds up to $3,000. In this example, the amount you save via a lower rate, over your new loan's term should be greater than $3,000."
For example, if you have a current loan balance for $175,000 at 3.65%, paying $1,350 per month, a refinance at 3.35% for 30 years with the added $3,000 in closing costs will shrink your monthly payment to $784.47. See figure below.
If you find yourself struggling from making simple credit card purchases, you will have to make it a habit to retrain your brain. Using muscle memory, stick your credit cards into water and freeze those cards. It creates a large hurdle and challenge from using it.
Try cutting up your credit cards. While you can keep those cards active to help your credit score, cutting the cards up will eliminate the temptation from using them.
Finally, if you continue to struggle with debt, I highly recommend you contact Debtors Anonymous which offers face-to-face, phone, internet meetings, and other services to help you.
They offer face-to-face counseling, group meetings, or you can contact by phone.
Find a DA Meeting Here.
If you're serious about paying off your debt, you need a guide, a solid roadmap that will hold you accountable and keep you on track.
Just reading this article alone will not pay off your debt. It takes action. That's why I highly encourage you to make an investment in yourself and attend a Financial Peace University course.
Most church communities will hold the course for free, but you may be required to buy some materials while other churches will make the investment and offer it for free.
If you prefer to study on your own, I recommend you buy Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Having attended the course myself and from personal experience, it is worth the investment. For starters, when you have skin in the game, you force yourself to take measures and actions.
Secondly, Dave's plan makes sense. It's simple. It's logical. It's realistic. Follow his step-by-step plan, and if you are serious, you will see results!