Are you having a tough time getting out of debt? Here are five tips that might help.
1. Target one card at a time.
Are you trying to pay down the balances on several credit cards, rather than just one? Pick the card with the lowest balance, and make it your top priority. Make the minimum payments on your other debts, and then throw all your attention at the loan with the lowest balance. Put as much effort as you can in to paying off the lowest balance card. This will give you the sense of a “victory,” which will motivate you to keep going.
Getting debt under control is a slow process, but you can give yourself confidence by mastering one card at a time.
Pay it down, cut it up, and rejoice.
NOTE: Cut the card up, DO NOT CANCEL IT – that will actually hurt your credit rating because it affects your debt to free credit ratio negatively.
2. Ask your creditors for lower interest rates.
A polite phone call to your credit card company is all it takes to reduce your rate. If you run in to resistance with the customer service rep, ask for a supervisor and explain your situation and what you are trying to do.
Credit card companies may seem ruthless, but they are run by everyday folks; Folks who can and will help you if you are polite and give them a reason to. Credit card companies want to keep you as a customer. They want you to make your payments. If you are upfront and friendly, you will likely end your call with a lower rate or other helpful workarounds.
3. Transfer your balances.
Are you thinking about transferring your balance to a lower-rate card? That can be a smart move, but proceed with caution. You must be committed to paying off the consolidated debt within the limited scope of the low-interest-rate teaser period. Otherwise it could end up biting you in the end.
4. Pay weekly.
If you are having a really hard time and are strapped for cash, try making small weekly payments to your credit cards. Many credit cards accumulate interest on a daily basis, which means that every day counts when you’re chipping away at your balance. A faster pay-down translates to fewer dollars spent on interest.
5. Consider drastic measures.
If you are feeling hopeless about your debt or it is affecting your health or well-being, then it is time to haul out the big guns: bankruptcy.
This is the nuclear option of debt reduction, but take solace in the fact that it’s a business decision, not a reflection of your worth as a human being. Making the decision to file bankruptcy does not reflect on you as a person. It does mean you will have to be extra careful in the future though.
This option does come with some caveats however. While this might sound counterintuitive, filing for bankruptcy isn’t free — in fact, it can actually be quite expensive, as you’ll need to pay for legal fees through the process. It will also damage your credit score, and make it difficult to acquire credit in the future.
Bankruptcy is a serious matter. Don’t enter into it lightly. Speak with an attorney before you take this option.
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