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Tips to Help Pay Down Your Credit Card Balances

February 23, 2022

After two years of dealing with wave after wave of the coronavirus pandemic, you may have felt that splurging on yourself or your family during the holidays was warranted. Perhaps you purchased lots of small gifts for loved ones that ultimately added up to larger amounts than you anticipated. Maybe you just fell behind on payments because of the financial strain the pandemic induced on families everywhere.

Earning points and miles with credit card purchases can be tempting, but if you’ve been racking up credit card debt that you can’t pay off, you could end up canceling out your rewards with high monthly bills and interest charges. Even worse, the debt can snowball into a burden that could take years to eliminate.

Here are some ways to stop spending now and to plan for eliminate that debt as soon as possible.

Delete credit card information from subscription delivery services

Amazon Prime and other delivery services make it incredibly easy to get what you want delivered to your door in just a few clicks of a mouse. You can make the process of buying what you may not need much less convenient by removing your credit card info from your account so it’s necessary to pull out a card and type in all of the digits every time you want to buy something. The same goes for other websites you buy from often. Don’t save your credit or debit card numbers on the platform. That way, you’ll keep your account numbers more secure and make it a little more difficult to indulge in late-night spending.

Lock up your plastic

Sometimes, the only way to keep yourself from buying more things you don’t need is to lock up your credit cards in a home safe or store them deep in a drawer and – most importantly – out of your wallet. Do whatever you can to keep yourself from using the credit cards until you can get your debt under control. For some people, only using a debit card is a way to make sure they don’t spend more than they have in their account.

Only buy what you need

Unless it’s food, shelter, transportation to your job, or monthly utilities, don’t spend money on it. When you consider purchasing something while digging out of debt, ask yourself: Do I REALLY need this? If you are honest, the answer will almost always be no. Even paying for a car repair that could be postponed for a few months if you have alternative transportation. Could you catch a ride with a colleague, neighbor, or spouse until you have enough saved to pay for the parts? Could you work remotely at least a few days a week to make being without a vehicle less of a burden? Could you spare some change for a bus ticket instead of paying hundreds or thousands on the car repair bill?

Pay as much as you can every month

Credit card issuers are happy for you to make the minimum payments on your accounts because it means more money for them. When you only make the minimum, you could end up paying thousands more than you originally owed. Credit card companies are now required to show how long it will take to pay off your debt if you only make the minimum payment. Spend a few minutes reviewing your next statement to fully understand why it’s crucial to pay as much as possible every month so you won’t be on the hook for years to come.

Transfer balances to cards with lower rates

If you are good at paying your bills on time, it’s likely you are receiving credit card offers in the mail. Transferring balances to a card with a zero (or very low) introductory offer would give you the opportunity to make some progress. Always set up an automatic payment to come out of your checking account on or before the due date to ensure you keep the promotional offer.

Look for money in unexpected places

If you aren’t already living on a budget, it’s time to evaluate your expenses to see where your money is going. Cancel subscriptions and memberships you no longer use. If you eat out frequently, prepare more meals at home and pack a lunch for work. If you are spending more than you earn, it may be time to look for a second job and then put that income toward your debt. You may also consider selling some of your assets to get ahead. If you own jewelry, an RV, camper, boat, motorcycle, or multiple cars, you could sell them to pay off debt more quickly.

Town & Country Federal Credit Union offers a range of options to help lower your costs, including Visa credit cards with an introductory rate as low as 3.90% APR for 12 months, and Personal Flex Loans with low rates that stay low. Learn more by clicking here.

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