If you’re struggling under the weight of credit card debt, take heart in knowing you’re far from the only one. The need to keep up with the Jones’, coupled with rising costs can easily lead us to overspend, leaving many with regrets.
If you’d like to avoid compounding your credit card debt, follow our simple tips to leave you with an easy smile rather than a whimper.
Look your credit card debts in the eye
As much as we all want to pretend they don’t exist, those credit card debts aren’t going to magically disappear. But, at the risk of sounding like Dr Phil, you can’t deal with what you don’t acknowledge. Sit down with any and all credit card statements you have and work out exactly how much you owe, what your repayments look like, and what you can afford to pay off each month. Looking at it won’t make your credit card debt magically disappear, but it will give you the knowledge and power to take steps to do something about it, and forward motion is always a good thing.
Pay off the high interest cards first
Once you’ve worked out which credit cards are costing you the most in interest, prioritise them to pay off first, while paying the minimum monthly repayments on the others. Reassess this regularly to ensure you’re always paying off the correct card and this will save you big bucks. If your debts are well beyond your means, it’s not the end of the world to look at debt consolidation or bankruptcy as an option.
Transfer to a zero interest account
If you’re in a position to apply for a new credit card, find any offers of a zero or low-interest period and apply for those. Take note, not just of the low interest rate, but also how long it will apply for and what the rate will be after that period elapses. You don’t want to take on a short interest-free period if the interest is then going to be higher than what you’re paying now. But, on the other hand, if the interest free period is lengthy and you’re likely to have the card paid off by the time it elapses, the post-interest-free period rate won’t matter as much.
Why? Because as you pay each card off, you’re going to cut them up and use only debit cards from now on, that’s why.
Create a budget – and stick to it
While you’re sitting down and working out how much you can pay off your credit cards, also work out exactly how much spare cash you’ll have and how much you can afford to live off day to day. Then don’t be tempted to deviate from that amount, no matter what. It may seem a little unfun, but the feeling of being in charge of your finances will be your reward – and that will feel even better.
Build in some fun
The last thing you want is to feel deprived, because you’re likely to blow the budget and then feel miserable about it later. Find fun things to do in your area that are cheap or free, have date nights at home and restrict access to your favourite online stores.
Being realistic doesn’t mean you’re not having fun; it simply means you’re living within your means and are taking control of your finances. It really is true that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time.
By Lauren Smith, Consultant at Aravanis
Lauren is a Consultant at Aravanis, one of Australia’s largest registered bankruptcy trustee firms. Aravanis offers free bankruptcy-related information that’s specific to your individual situation.