Last week you tuned in to hear our report on the high level of debt in America. Well, as promised, this week we’ll take a look at a few strategies you can use to pay down your credit card debt.
1. Pay down the card with highest APR. Experts agree that the best tactic for effectively paying down your debt is to tackle the account with the highest interest rate. This is a good strategy because with higher interest rates more of your monthly payment goes towards finance charges than the actual balance, which extends the length of time it takes to pay off your debt and drains your wallet.
2. Set and stick to a planned payment budget. Devoting money to pay down debt can be difficult because it feels like you’re getting nothing in return, and if you set the bar too high it’ll become a source of stress. Instead, look at your budget and determine a practical amount you can spend each month that you can promise yourself to maintain and you’ll work your way out of debt.
3. Pay more than the minimum. Due to the effect of interest on your credit card balance, paying just the minimum payment will draw out your debt repayment by years. For example, $60 minimum payment on a $3,000 credit card balance would take eight years to pay off and cost a person a whopping $2,780 in interest. However, if they could pay an additional $50 a month, the debt would be paid off in only three years and they would save $1,800 in interest charges.
4. Make bimonthly payments. Most people get paid every two weeks, so you can use this routine to make extra payments on your credit card debt. By paying a portion to your credit card every time you get paid, a smaller amount will be removed from your checks and it will have the effect of paying more than the minimum each month. This translates into huge savings on finance charges because interest is calculated and charged every day and you’ll be reducing your balance twice a month. Not to mention the long-term effect of shortening the overall time needed to get rid of your debt.
5. Use some of your savings or other cash windfalls to make large payments. If you have money in savings that you are protecting in case of emergencies, that’s a good financial decision. However, some experts recommend using some of your savings, or “emergency fund,” to pay off high-interest debt. Here’s why: if you have $1,000 in savings earning 2% APY and a $1,000 credit card balance charging interest at 12% APR, then every $2 you earn in savings is costing you $12 in finance charges, so you’re actually losing $10! Instead, you can use the savings to wipe out your credit card debt and apply the money that you would use for monthly payments towards rebuilding that emergency fund.
Look over your personal budget and see which of these strategies works best to help you pay down your credit card debt. Whichever one you choose, be sure to always make the minimum payments on your other accounts to prevent fees from being charged while you tackle the high-interest one with larger payments.
We wish you the best of luck with your debt reduction. If you make a budget and stick to it, we know you can do it! Comment below and share with the Mango community how you are eliminating your debt!