To be blunt, the economy has been in rough shape for a while now. Even those who were normally quite good at staying out of debt, or were at least able to keep up with it, have found unpaid credit card debt piling up. While it’s unfortunate, it’s usually due to circumstances beyond their control. If this sounds like you, then you should know that it’s not your fault, and that there are things you can do to make things better.
There is an old saying that says if you’re in a hole then you should stop digging. This applies perfectly to credit card debt. No matter how bad it is, the first step is to stop using your credit cards. No excuses. Period. This is vital because unpaid credit card debt has a nasty way of following you around for years.
If you have a lot of higher interest cards, then finding a single card with a lower rate to move those balances to will help. This is a process known as ‘consolidation’ because you are combining several payments into one. The idea is that the lower interest rate will now be applied to your total balance (after it is moved), making your overall payment much lower. It is also more convenient to make and keep track of one payment versus several.
Be careful with consolidation though. The terms and conditions of transferring balances can be tricky, so make sure you fully understand the terms before moving any money to a particular car. Furthermore, it can be very tempting to charge more to your credit cards because you will be saving more money each month through consolidating. Resist that temptation at all costs. As mentioned earlier: stop digging!
If consolidation isn’t an option for you, or you would like to try another way to get rid of unpaid credit card debt, then the following method will work very well. It is sometimes referred to as the snowball method because the effects get bigger and bigger as you go along.
The first step is to write down all of your debts and how much you owe on each one. Put them in order from the least amount owed to the most. Pretty easy so far, right? You continue to pay the minimum on all of your loans except the one at the top of the list (the one with the lowest balance owed). You then pay as much as you absolutely can toward the smallest debt, scraping every extra penny together that you can.
As you get the top debt on your list paid off, you move to the next one down. However, you now add whatever you were paying on the previous loan to the new loan, plus the minimum you were paying. Then, when you get to the third debt, you combine what you were paying on debts one and two, and apply it to the third one. This allows you to get rid of unpaid credit card debt much faster, and you will be making rather large payments by the time you get to the bottom of the list.