10 Great Ideas For Credit Card Debt Reduction After The Holidays
Now that the holidays are over it is time to start your annual credit card debt reduction. The holidays are a season of giving and like most people you have more than likely financed this last holiday with a credit card or two or three.
So, now those credit card companies are wanting to get paid for helping you during this great and joyous giving season.
Like so many others after the bill starts coming in, you are probably starting to feel a little buyer’s remorse. I can tell you that I have felt that way many holiday seasons.
Consequently, how do you reduce credit card debt? I have found a few ways for credit card debt reduction that might help. Some are extreme and some of these ways will take time.
Choose what works best for you and reduce that debt so you can prepare for next year. Before you know it the Holidays will be back in full swing.
1. Stop Using Cards
Stop using my credit cards wait what? I realize that just going cold turkey with your credit cards is like an alcoholic giving up drinking.
However, the best way to achieve credit card debt reduction is to simply cut them up and forget you own them.
In today’s society, it is really difficult to use only cash. So, if you are going to stop using credit cards you will need a debit card or a reloadable credit card. This way you can only spend what you have.
If you are comfortable with what you spent this year on your credit cards and your credit card interest rate, simply stop using them. Your debit will reduce naturally by paying a little extra every month.
2. Eliminate your Credit Card Debt
If you are interested in getting totally out of debt. It is possible but it will take determination and discipline.
It is important to write down your goals for getting out of debt. Also, you need a clear picture of what your debt looks like. Allow me to explain.
Write down all of your debt. You can do this on a whiteboard, computer, or paper. Once you have a clear picture of your debt you can begin the process.
Set a Budget
The most important step to eliminating your credit card debt is to have a budget. Your budget is a living document that is constantly changing with your circumstances each day.
It should be a snapshot of what is going on in your life. You need a budget in writing by the first of the month each and every month.
It should consist of every dollar coming into your home and every dollar going out. Every dollar needs to be accounted for.
When setting up your budget start with the basics. Giving, saving, rent or mortgage, electricity, water, gas, and food. All else is secondary.
Remember to pay yourself first. There is nothing more defeating than working for 40 hours getting a paycheck on Friday and being broke on Saturday.
A true budget is the first step in gaining control of not only your debt but your finances overall. You would be surprised at how many people do not have a monthly budget in writing to help them control their finances.
You may be raising your hand right now saying Me Me. Today is the best place to start.
After your budget is set in place you know what you have to work with each month to help with the elimination of your debt.
The debt snowball method is a great way to start. List all of your debt not including your mortgage from the lowest balance owed to the highest.
Pay only the minimum payments on all of your debt except for the lowest debt. Pay whatever extra you have according to your budget on the lowest balance.
When the lowest balanced debt is eliminated, take the money you were paying on the debt you just eliminated and move it to the next lowest balance.
As you continue eliminating each debt the amount of money you are paying towards each debt will increase therefore accelerating the payoff balances of each debt.
The debt avalanche method has a slightly different twist than the snowball method. With the avalanche method, you list all of your debt with the highest interest rate first instead of the lowest balance.
You make minimum payments on all of your debt and pay your extra money towards the highest interest rate balance until that debt is eliminated then your roll that money into the next debt on your list.
The debt blizzard method of debt reduction is a combination of both the snowball and the avalanche methods.
To clarify, If you decide to use the blizzard method to eliminate your debt you will start with your smallest debt first just as the snowball method.
This is considered a motivational win. After the smallest debt is eliminated then change to paying off the highest interest debt just as you would with the avalanche method.
Whenever you need a motivational boost switch back to paying off the lowest debt.
There may be other methods of paying off your debt but these three are the most popular. That being said, it really doesn’t matter which method you choose the most important thing is to have a budget and start eliminating your debt.
3. Emergency fund
Having an emergency fund may not seem like a way for credit card debt reduction.
However, by having an emergency fund of at least $1000 dollars you can reduce the use of your credit cards when an emergency comes up thereby reducing your debt.
That being said, what is your idea of an emergency? An emergency can be classified into many things.
And, if you choose to dip into your emergency fund for any reason you will need to stop paying on your debt reduction until your emergency fund balance is back up to $1000.
4. Lower Interest Rates
In some cases, you can contact your credit card company and ask for an interest rate reduction. If your credit score is in good shape most companies will allow an interest rate reduction.
By lowering interest rates you should be able to pay down the debt faster. Just keep in mind, credit card companies will not lower your rates automatically you have to ask. The answer will always be no until you ask.
5. Withdraw From Retirement Account
After you make up your budget, you may find there is simply not enough money coming in to help with the debt reduction. This is when drastic measures need to take place.
One of those measures is taking out a loan from your retirement account to help pay off your credit card debt. This not the preferred method of debt reduction.
However, it is an option. First, you can only have one loan at a time against your retirement account. Secondly, you are removing money that is working for you.
For example, if you have had a retirement account for over 5 years, you have been essentially buying into mutual funds at lower rates.
So, when you remove the money for a loan that needs to be paid back you will be buying back into the same mutual fund and a higher rate. This will in effect result in less growth.
6. Cash-out Life Insurance
Whole life insurance policies tend to have cash balances.
If you have this type of life insurance you can take out some of the cash as long as the policy has matured.
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering this credit card debt reduction is that like a retirement account the cash is meant to be for your retirement not to use as you please.
Your life insurance company might consider a withdrawal as a cancelation and you will need to change the style of insurance that you currently have. This may result in higher premiums.
Home Equity Line of Credit or HELOC is simply tapping into the equity of your home as a loan. A line of credit is opened based on the equity that you have built up over the years.
This money can be used for anything keeping in mind it is a loan and will need to be paid back. However, this type of loan could lower the interest rate that you are currently paying on your outstanding debt.
Thereby reducing the amount of interest you will payback. however, keep in mind, paying off your credit card debt with a HELOC will result in paying more for your debt in the long run.
And, unless you eliminate the credit company you will more than likely continue to accumulate more debt.
Applying for a debt consolidation loan is another fast way for credit card debt reduction. However, it is also a fast way to double your debt if you are not careful.
That is to say when you consolidate all of your debt into one payment your existing credit cards will still be available to use.
So, if you don’t close the credit accounts or have the discipline to not use your credit cards you can end up in worse financial trouble.
The same theory applies to the HELOC loan as well.
9. Part-Time Job
One of the best ways to help with credit card debt reduction is to get a part-time job.
A side hustle will bring in extra money to put towards debt and or next Christmas so you don’t go further in debt next year.
Jay Lenno once said that he has always worked 2 jobs. One paid his bills and the other was saved and invested.
If you grasp this concept at an early age you will never have financial difficulties.
10. Debt Settlement
Debt settlement is a last resort to consider and here is why. By settling your debt with your creditors you are asking for them to take less than you owe as a settlement.
This results in what is known as a charge off. Your credit score will be affected by this type of debt reduction. Debt settlement is the task of calling each credit card company and asking to make a settlement on your account right now.
Meaning you will more than likely need cash to pay their demands right away. If your account is already in collections do not make a settlement with the collections company.
Contact the company that issued you the credit directly to work out your settlement. Collection companies buy old and bad debt for pennies on the dollar from credit companies.
So, in essence, the debt has already been settled or charged-off so you could very well get a settlement of a lesser amount.
Financial problems create undue stress in your life and relationships. I have attempted to give you a couple of ideas for credit card debt reduction that may help you financially.
That said I am not a financial guru but I have struggled with debt and have utilized most of these methods to reduce and eliminate my debt.
The most important financial tool should be your budget.
By living within your means via a budget you will not approach next year with the same dilemma as this year.
In fact, you might find that you have saved the money needed to finance your joyous holiday giving. Eliminating the need to use your credit cards
Some of the ideas that I have suggested are extreme and are not recommended unless there are no other options.
Thank you for reading and I hope I was able to leave something for you. If you have any experience that you would like to share or want to leave a comment or a question. Leave them below and I will certainly get back in a timely manner.
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