Between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010, consumers made $72 billion more in payments on their credit cards than in purchases. Many individuals are picking up second and third jobs to pay off surmounting debt; others are relying on balance transfers on high interest credit cards, garage sales, and even selling unused household items on Craigslist. Reducing consumer credit-card debt is a surefire way to eventually stimulate the economy.
Here are four tips to help you get out of debt:
1.) Track your income and spending: To find cash to pay down your debt, you must know exactly what’s coming in and what’s going out. Write down everything you spend for 30 to 60 days with a pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet or online software.
2.) Get the details: Determine the difference that an extra $100 or $200 a month can make in your progress. Then focus on saving small amounts that day, week or month.
3.) Call your lenders: List your cards in order of interest rate, from highest to lowest, along with the amount of the debt and phone number of the lender. Then call and ask if they would be willing to reduce your interest rate by 10 percentage points, indicating that you’ve received more competitive offers in the mail. (Make sure the representative who answers is authorized to reduce the rate. If not, ask speak to someone who is.)
4.) Snowball it down: As soon as the card with the highest-interest rate is paid off, direct that payment to the next card until that one is paid off, and work your way down the line. Although some pundits suggest that paying off the smallest balance first will motivate you to keep paying your cards off, studies have shown that method isn’t as effective as paying in order of interest rate. You’ll get out of debt faster by paying off the highest-interest-rate debts first.
5.) Build a cushion: Once you’ve snowballed your way through the credit card debt, steer that monthly amount into a savings account until you have at least three months’ of cash to cover living expenses. That will prevent emergencies from sending you back into the debt cycle.
If you have any questions on this topic or are in need of a financial fresh start, please contact our experienced team of bankruptcy attorneys at (305) 285-9100. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.