The warning signs are all there. Your credit card bills are slowly increasing, while more and more you have to juggle your finances to pay everything on time. Even worse is if you miss a payment and face even greater challenges with penalty fees and increased interest rates. You know you need to take action to get your debt under control, but what’s the most effective way to pay back what you owe?
There are two methods to reduce credit card debt that have proven effective for consumers. Which method you choose is largely a matter of where you are with your finances and how you feel the most comfortable in paying them back.
Method 1: The Debt Meltdown Method
With this strategy of debt reduction, you focus all of your efforts to paying off your high interest rate debts first. Since these debts build faster with accrued interest, it is often more efficient to pay them off first. In the long run you save money because you pay less for interest added to your debts.
You start by taking aggressive action to streamline your budget as much as possible. This allows you to free up money that can be put towards reducing your debt. Reduce discretionary expenses as much as you can for a while and look for ways to reduce flexible expenses, such as food or gas. You may need to commit to eating at home more and taking your lunch to work, couponing, and finding people to carpool with so you can share the high cost of gas. Keep in mind these cutbacks are only temporary, so these expenses can be reestablished once your debts are paid.
Once you have as much money as possible, focus that extra cash on paying off your highest interest rate debt first. Pay all of the minimum amounts required on the rest of your credit card bills, but put everything you freed up from your budget to paying off one debt at a time. After you pay off your highest interest rate debt, move on to your next highest, and so on until you are debt-free.
Method 2: The Debt Rollup Method
In some cases – either because your highest interest rate debt is too large or because you can’t free up enough money to pay it off quickly – you may wish to use the debt rollup method instead. This strategy largely works in the same way, except you focus on paying off the debt with the smallest balance first.
This allows you to see a positive impact from your efforts faster. It can also help you gain momentum to tackle your bigger debts. After you pay off the first credit card, you can “roll up” that money with the money freed up from your budget to pay off the next smallest debt. With each debt you pay, you have more money available to pay off the next debt until you are completely free of credit card debt.
If you assess your budget and even the rollup method won’t allow you to pay off your debts efficiently, it may be time to seek help. Contact a trained credit counselor to get an assessment of your situation. They can evaluate your debts, review your budget, and provide options to help you find relief from debt.
About the author : Connie Solidad has been writing about finances and debt consolidation for years. She's an expert in the industry and writes about debt management and credit counseling options and resources. When Connie is not working, she loves playing with her two dogs in Tampa, Florida. To learn more about debt management refer to ConsolidatedCredit.ca.