Credit cards can be a great tool if you pay them off each and every month. Personally, I enjoy Nordstrom Notes and Cash Back Rebates. It’s like free money! EXCEPT, once in a while, those credit card balances might sneak up on you and leave you feeling exasperated. The balances just keep creeping up and up. It’s time to Jump off the Credit Card Merry-Go-Round!
It’s easy to declare you’re never going to use a credit card again but, reality is, credit is convenient. You use credit at the gas station, online, and even for a few recurring bills like Netflix. How do you stop the madness?
It takes time! It may even take months!
Perhaps you can go cold turkey and freeze those cards, in a chunk of ice, like so many people suggest. Realistically, you will probably need to take it step by step, one month at a time.
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How To Stop The Credit Card Merry-Go-Round
1) Pay Cash
Everyone is talking about the Envelope System! Some love it, some say it just doesn’t work. Either way, it’s worth a shot! We use the envelope system for our monthly expendables.
- Cash on hand. You know exactly what you have to spend and it is easily accessible.
- The credit card bill will no longer give you fits of anxiety.
- When it’s gone, it’s gone. No more spending. It’s clear as day!
- No interest. You won’t be paying interest on your groceries charged to a credit card!
- Cash has a greater chance of getting stolen.
- Easy to lose. How many of us have had cash in our pocket one minute and gone the next? A few years ago, my husband kept my daughter’s hundred dollar bill, in his pocket, for safe keeping at the mall. Ahem, I’m sure you know the rest of the story … somewhere between Justice and the food court, the one-hundred dollar bill disappeared.
- When it’s gone, it’s gone. Yep! It’s both a pro and a con. You may not be able to hit the grocery store, at the end of the month, because the envelope is empty.
- No rewards! No one is going to pay you 2% for spending cash. You could be saving much more in interest though.
Consider using the envelope system for your monthly expendables and leave the credit cards at home!
2) Pay As You Charge
Do you have an expenditure and the cash is readily available at the bank? Use that credit card, get the rewards, and pay it off as soon as you get home! Online banking at it’s finest!
When my son was ready for braces, we charged the full amount on our credit card and paid it off, online, the same day! That was good for $60 in Nordstrom Notes! Of course we looked at all of our options and discovered there was no advantage to paying cash.
Target gives you 5% off, if you use their credit card. Guess what? You can use the card, get 5% off, and then head straight to customer service to pay it off, with cash!
3) Pay Off Those Pesky Automatic Charges
Let’s face it, it’s just easier to pay at the pump, with credit. Some of those pesky little automatic payments like Netflix are better left alone.
When you get your statement, be sure to pay any New Charges for the month plus the minimum payment due. This will keep your debt from climbing.
An alternative method would be to purchase a gift card, at the beginning of the month, for gas expenses.
Note: Debit cards have never been my thing. I’d rather use credit than forget to write in a debit charge or risk security at the pump.
4) Exercise Patience
Slow Down! Look at purchases in a new light. Think things through and practice self-control.
Years ago I read a book titled, Your Money or Your Life. The premise of the book was to encourage us to look at each item purchased, in the light of hours worked. That new sweater you’re dying to have is $40, you make $20 an hour, is the sweater worth two hours of work?
Woah! That sure puts a damper on things!
You may want those shoes right now, after all, they are on sale! When you think it through, you realize those shoes will only add to the already bloated credit card bill.
Yep! I wanted those new tennis shoes, I NEEDED those new tennis shoes! They were 15% off! I’m choosing to wear my worn out tennis shoes because I know that 15% off will be negated, with interest.
5) Keep Your Eye On The Target
Keep a visual of your progress. Nothing says it better than a visual, front and center! Check out the Debt Boss and download your very own free printable debt tracker. With columns for interest percentage, balances, and interest paid, you’ll be be motivated to see those numbers disappear. Not only that, you’ll know at a glance which debt to tackle first.
How To Abolish Debt Fast
Whew! Congratulations! You’ve jumped off the Credit Card Merry-Go-Round! Now it’s time to tackle that debt!
According to a March 2013 poll by CreditCards.com, talking about credit makes us squirm more than the topics of religion, politics, salary, and our love lives. Really?
It’s a little easier for those whom have grown up on social media to discuss credit card debt. The 18 – 24 crowd is accustomed to sharing many details through text and social media and is less inhibited than their older counterparts.
What about you? Do you talk about credit?
1) Pay Down Balances
Now that you have control of your credit cards and are no longer accumulating debt, it’s time to take the next step! Tackle that debt! Put on your shoulder pads and take it to the ground!
What debt do you want to take to the ground first?
There are two common methods of tackling debt: the Snowball Method and The Debt Avalanche.
The Snowball Method tackles the smallest debt first while paying the minimum on all other debt. When the smallest debt is paid in full, it then rolls that money over to the next smallest debt, building momentum. The idea is a quick win! The sooner you get a debt paid, the more confidence you will gain!
The Debt Avalanche tackles the debt with the highest interest rate, first, while paying the minimum on all other debt. After the highest interest rate debt is paid off, the Debt Avalanche then puts that money toward the next highest interest rate debt, until each debt is paid. With this debt pay off method, you will pay the least amount of interest.
Personally, we are using The Debt Avalanche. When you have the Debt Boss in front of you, you will clearly see you are paying the same amount of interest on a 20% debt with a $2,000 balance as you are on a 10% debt with a $4,000 balance. In this case, you would use both the Snowball Method and The Debt Avalanche.
What if you have 20% interest on a $10,000 balance and a 10% interest on a $5,000 balance?
$10,000 x 20% interest = $2,000/year (that’s a lot of dough!)
$5,000 x 10% interest = $500/year
Now, which debt would you pay off sooner? Do you need a quick win to build confidence or do you want to pay the least amount of interest?
2) Transfer Balances To A 0% Interest Credit Card
Have you gotten the offers in the mail? Transfer your balances and pay 0% interest! Sounds good right? Be sure to read the fine print. Many of these credit card offers charge a 1% – 5% transfer fee and a limited number of months with the 0% interest. If you KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you can pay off the debt before the 0% interest expires, it may be worth your while. Do the math to make sure you will come out ahead.
$10,000 x 20% interest = $2,000/year
$10,000 x 3% transer fee = $300
This scenario gives you an extra $1,100 to put towards debt IF it takes you a full year to pay it off.
There is a lot to consider with 0% interest credit cards.
- If you don’t pay it off within the allotted months, you may end up with a higher interest rate than you started with.
- Thinking of buying a house? You might want to hold off to protect your credit.
- If you’ll be tempted to continue charging, a 0% interest credit card will not help you, long term.
3) Go On A Spending Freeze
See how long you can get by with what you have on hand. Get creative in the kitchen, using what’s in your cupboards, challenge yourself to not order anything online, and stay out of the stores.
4) Sell Stuff
Clean out your closets and sell the stuff you no longer want or need.
- Sell Stuff On eBay
- Have A Garage Sale
- List Things On Facebook Marketplace
- Use Social Media To Let Your Friends Know You’re Selling Stuff
5) Stay Home
You’re paying for your home, enjoy it! We don’t have to be on the go all of the time. Instead, learn to be content with and enjoy your home!
There are plenty of things to do that won’t break the bank.
7) Say NO!
You aren’t required to accept every invitation. If going out to dinner is going to slow down your progress, skip it, or offer to host a potluck. A little old fashioned fun is worth it.
8) Talk About Credit Card Debt
All the smart people say, ‘if you say it out loud, it’s more likely to stick’.
How often do we tell ourselves, ‘I’m not drinking pop anymore’ and the very next day you find yourself reaching for a can of Pepsi? If you tell someone (like your husband), ‘I’m not drinking Pepsi anymore’ does that change things? He probably won’t chastise you when he sees you with a can but you will chastise yourself because you know he knows.
Find an accountability partner and talk to them about your debt. Make a declaration on social media. Announce your plans and see what happens!
Jumping off the Credit Card Merry-Go-Round can take a bit of time. Finding the cash to pay monthly expendables and then working your way into paying as you charge will take you far. Paying off automatic charges each month will keep your debt from rising and patience will ensure you don’t pay interest on every purchase. Keep an eye on your financial target with a visual, like the Debt Boss, and work to tackle your debt as fast as you can!
Got your shoulder pads on?