Drowning in Debt? Start with Little Wins
Paying off credit cards can be a bit like doing your taxes. You have no idea where all the money went and all you want is for the entire situation to be done. The problem is that, like the IRS, a lot of credit card debt is not going to go away overnight. You have to celebrate the little wins that make it easier to stay on the path to becoming debt-free. Try one of these approaches, and you will start to see your debt going down a little each month.
1. Pay Smallest Debts First
The easiest way to make some progress is to look at your bills and figure out which one is smallest. You can put your extra money toward that one debt, while you continue to make the minimum payments on the others. This allows you to see the biggest possible reward happening quickly. Once that debt has been paid off, you can work on the next one. As you see your debt dropping, you are more confident and better able to stick to your budget goals.
- Easier to figure out where to start
- Pay off smaller debts faster
- See progress sooner
2. Target the Highest Interest Rate
Another approach requires a bit more homework on your part. With this trick, you gather all of your credit card bills and figure out which one has the highest interest rate.
Take the highest-interest debt and put your extra income toward paying it off, and just pay the minimum on everything else. It can be tempting to start paying off your car loan or student loans if those are the biggest monthly payments, but those interest rates are often far lower. Paying the highest-interest debt decreases the amount of money you pay each month in interest, the primary problem that keeps people in debt.
- Decrease amount of interest paid faster
- Focus payoff goals on the biggest debt-producer, not the biggest payment
- Improve awareness of overall debt situation
Celebrate Progress, Big and Small
When you first start working to pay off your debt, it can be easy to get discouraged because the total drops slowly. To help the habit stick, you have to build in little rewards to motivate you to keep going. If you are one of the millions of Americans with an average credit card debt of about $16,000, you should know that every extra dollar you pay to your debts will result in less interest paid, and a faster route to getting out of debt. Set an initial goal of paying off $500 or $1,000 in debt, and then give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back when you reach it.
Getting out of debt takes time, but you do not have to do it alone.
Financial Access Federal Credit Union is Here to Help.
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers can talk with a credit union representative at 941-748-7704 ext. 125 when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.
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