Beverly Harzog is a former shopaholic who maxed out seven credit cards and racked up more than $20,000 worth of credit card debt.
Now a credit card expert and consumer finance analyst with U.S. News and World Report, Beverly is sharing the debt payment strategy she used to get out of debt in just two years.
Read on to learn about Beverly’s four steps to pay off your credit card debt fast…
- Take responsibility
- Step away from your credit cards
- Explore debt payment strategies
- Find a support system
1. Take responsibility
When Beverly was in credit card debt years ago, things got so bad that her electricity was about to be turned off because she wouldn’t go to the mailbox to get her bills.
Beverly was in denial and things only got worse until she took responsibility for her debt.
“I knew how to handle corporate finance because I was a CPA, but I couldn’t handle my own personal finances,” Beverly said. “Look at the number. Be realistic. Once you do that, it loses power over you.”
Beverly says that once you stare down your debt, you become in charge of the debt instead of the other way around.
2. Step away from your credit cards
After you take responsibility for your debt, the second step is to stop using your credit cards!
“It’s very important that you do not add to your debt,” Beverly told Clark.com. “And if you’re using a balance transfer card, no new purchases on that card. That’s a big mistake that people make.”
While you’re paying off your debt, consider budgeting with cash and using the envelope method with our step-by-step guide.
3. Explore debt payment strategies
Next, it’s time to create an action plan. Beverly slashed her expenses (she ate lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) and increased her income by asking her employer for a raise.
This freed up additional money in her budget to put toward her debt repayment.
Years after paying off her credit cards, Beverly named her debt payoff strategy the Blizzard Method. It’s a combination of the Avalanche Method and the Snowball Method.
Here’s what you need to know about the popular debt payoff strategies:
- Avalanche (Ladder): Pay the minimum against your lower interest rate credit cards and the maximum at the highest interest rate card.
- Snowball: Ignore credit card interest rates and focus on balances; pay off debts from smallest to largest.
- Blizzard: Start with the Snowball Method and pay off the lowest balance first, then switch to the Avalanche Method for the remainder of your credit cards.
“With the Blizzard, you get the best of both worlds. You end up paying a little more interest than Avalanche but less than Snowball. It’s just an option for somebody who needs a quick start before they settle in to the Avalanche Method,” Beverly said.
Money expert Clark Howard recommends the Avalanche Method, also known as laddering, because you pay less in interest.
4. Find a support system
Beverly’s fourth and final step to get out of credit card debt is one that she didn’t follow herself: Find a support system.
When Beverly was digging her way out of debt, she didn’t tell anyone because she felt embarrassed. Remember, she was a CPA. But she decided to tell her story years later to help others.
“Being in credit card debt is just the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life, but you’re not alone. You can get out of this!,” Beverly said. “You’ll be surprised at how great you feel when you start making a dent in that debt.”
These days, there are so many places online where you can find support, including Clark’s Ditch Your Debt Facebook group.
Our group has thousands of members who are working to pay off all types of debt, including credit cards. They share successes, challenges and even their own debt payment strategies!
Whether you join our group or rely on family and friends, having a support system will help you stay motivated.
More Clark.com stories you may like:
- 5 sneaky ways to improve your credit score
- Clark Howard: Here’s my philosophy on credit cards
- How to improve you credit score by 100 points in 30 days