Thursday, June 24, 2010

7 Steps To Help Get Out Of Credit Card Debt

7 Steps To Help Get Out Of Credit Card Debt: "

You have vowed over and over again to get that credit card debt out of your life, but here you are, still in debt, frustrated with your lack of progress and starting to lose hope. Don’t! Millions have been where you are and have conquered that debt. You can too!

These tips will help.

1. Agree on getting rid of credit card debt

If single, find an accountability partner who will do just that: hold you accountable. Even better, find a friend who has the same goals you have so you can keep each other accountable. Either way, it is easier to maintain your financial goals if you know someone is checking on you.

If married, make sure the two of you are in total agreement. A house divided against itself cannot stand and neither can a marriage when partners are working against each other. Turn off the TV, wait until the kids are in bed, and discuss your financial goals. If you can’t agree, then agree to meet again and keep meeting until you do agree.

2. Budget

A financial truth is that you can’t manage your debt unless you manage your money. The good news: most people actually find money when they make a written budget. Why is this so? Because money that isn’t budgeted will disappear. Your budget is your Houdini antidote: it will make that disappeared money re-appear.

3. Avoid minimum credit card payments

Because the credit card companies want to keep you in debt forever, they structure their minimum payment amounts to do just that. Don’t play their game.

4. Stop using your credit cards

“What?” you say, “I can’t just stop cold turkey!”

Yes you can. What would happen if you kept borrowing money from the bank who has your car note? Right! You would never get it paid off. Every time you use your credit card you are borrowing money. Adding debt while subtracting debt is bad math.

5. Don’t run with friends who are high spenders

No, you don’t have to give up your friends, but if you have budgeted $100 a month for eating out, you won’t be able to go out with them every weekend. They might not understand, but what is more important: your family’s finances or the approval of your friends?

6. Keep an emergency fund as your credit card buffer account

I realize that it is difficult to save for emergencies while paying off debt, so save at least $1,000 for small emergencies before getting started. Why? Because when your car’s water pump goes out and you have no available funds to pay for the repair, you will reach in your wallet and pull out that piece of plastic you vowed not to use. Your emergency fund is your cushion for when life happens.

7. Review and update your goals

We started by making sure that you need to be in agreement with a partner. Great. But once you have entered a battle, you need to monitor your progress and make sure your battle plan is still in focus. If you had $10,000 in credit card debt, celebrate every time you knock it down by $1,000. You will gain momentum instead of losing steam.

Like I said, you can do this. Get started!

What other tips do you have for getting rid of credit card debt?

Photo by JudeanPeoplesFront

Joe Plemon, a retired engineer, financial counselor and blogger, lives in Southern Illinois with Janice, his wife of 39 years. Joe likes online Scrabble, St Louis Cardinal baseball, blues music, power naps, high school football, short term mission trips and Sunday family dinners. You can read more from Joe at Personal Finance by the Book.

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