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Credit card debt is one of the most difficult financial hurdles to overcome — so most people just simply ignore it.
The longer you let that debt pile up, the harder it becomes to pay off and the more damage it does to every aspect of your financial life.
So if you’re finally ready to become debt free, there are two things you need to do right now:
- Change your mindset: Paying off your debt is possible — you just have to make it your number one priority and you’ll be surprised how quickly that total number starts to drop.
- Create a plan and stick to it: If you don’t have a specific plan, your “debt payoff money” will quickly start to disappear toward other things. You have to decide to stay disciplined if you ever want to reach financial freedom.
Paying off big debt takes time, which is why having a plan is so important — it keeps you on track and working toward that final payment.
Setting a goal of paying down debt in 36 months or less works best for most people. If your payoff plan is any longer than that, it becomes difficult to stay focused.
Once you decide to make your debt a priority, you need to start paying more than the minimum monthly payments. That will allow you to eliminate the debt faster, save money on interest, and most importantly, stay motivated to get the job done and behind you!
Monthly credit card statements typically highlight the minimum payment you are required to make, but there’s a better strategy you should consider.
Take a look at your monthly statement, and instead of focusing on the minimum payment, pay attention to the box that shows how much you need to pay each month to get the debt wiped out in 36 months. When you give yourself a shorter time period, your progress is tangible ‘ so you can actually see your debt significantly decreasing as the months go by.
If you have several cards, your first goal is to pay off the card with the highest interest rate. This process is called laddering. Pay more money toward that credit card and slightly less toward the other cards, until the card with highest-interest rate has a zero balance. Then you move on to the next card, and so on. Resist the temptation to close the account when it reaches a zero balance. Doing so will only damage your credit score.
More resources to help you eliminate debt:
- Guide to paying off credit card debt
- Debt 101: Good vs. bad, the dangers & how to protect yourself
- Is debt consolidation worth it?