The holidays are over and you’ve had a great time. The dreaded credit card statement has arrived and you wonder how you’re going to pay it off. Happy holiday memories vanish into thin air. Unfortunately, there are no magic ways to wipe out debts – it just takes discipline.
Paying off credit card debt quickly requires more than paying off the minimum each month. Most credit card providers require you to repay around 2% of the balance each month, although they are required to outline how much more you will pay if only the minimum is paid. With interest rates averaging around 17% pa, most of your payment will reduce a portion of the interest with only a small amount applied to the debt. It will take literally years to pay it off!
Quite simply, you must pay more than the minimum and here are some ideas to help you do that.
Hide it before you spend it. Arrange for an automatic transfer from your pay to a separate account so you never see the money. Use that account to pay off the debt/s. Alternatively, schedule an automatic deduction from your cash account to your credit card every pay day. If the money isn’t there, you can’t spend it.
Save the little bits. Put all the coins you get in change into a savings jar. Preferably one you can’t open like the piggy bank of your childhood. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up and every time you add to your pot you’ll be reminded of your goal. When it’s full, attribute the entire contents to your debt.
Sell something. Everyone has stuff that is no longer needed – forgotten gym equipment, a bicycle gathering dust, an unused musical instrument, and so on. Sell it online or have a big clean out and stage a garage sale.
Spend less. Careful spending doesn’t need to impact on your lifestyle. Try these ideas:
- Check the supermarket catalogues and buy the brands on special.
- Cook at home rather than at restaurants or buying take-away.
- Lay-by birthday and Christmas gifts during the mid-year store sales. Or better still, give the gift of special time together at Christmas rather than buying lavish gifts.
- Check out upmarket clothes recycling stores; they often have designer clothes at bargain prices. No-one will ever know!
Use windfalls. Every now and then a chunk of money comes your way – back-pay, a bonus or a tax refund. It’s alright to give yourself a treat but put most of it towards your debt.
Ask for help. If all else fails, talk to your credit card provider about other ways to pay off the debt. They want to be repaid and may be prepared to make special arrangements for you.
Then when your next holiday swings around, your credit card will be squeaky clean, ready for you to have fun without any debt guilt. Or challenge yourself to have your next holiday planned and saved for so you won’t even have the worry of debt looming over you ruining your time off.