While credit cards can be useful tools for emergencies, building up credit, and earning flier miles and other perks, too much credit can be a costly drain on your finances. Monthly payments, fees, and the amount spent on interest can quickly spiral out of control and take up a huge chunk of your monthly budget.
If you have credit card debt and would like to pay down your cards or pay them off altogether, these tips will help you pay your cards off faster:
- Set goals. Realistic goals can help you pay off your credit cards faster. Not only does this give you a time limit to be accountable for, but it can also serve as a reminder when you're tempted to charge up your cards or put extra money elsewhere. Write down your goals (for example, "Pay off credit card in one year" or "Cut balance in half by the end of the summer") and post them where you can see them and will remember them.
- Pay more than the monthly minimum. Minimum monthly payments are designed to drag out the balance on your credit as long as possible. If you want to pay off your cards, you absolutely must pay more than the monthly minimum-even $20 a month extra can shave years off of your balance and save you hundreds in interest. For example, if you have a $1,000 credit card balance and make the minimum payment of $25 a month, it will take you 113 months to pay it off. If you pay just $20 more a month, you'll pay your credit card off in just 28 months and save over $700 in interest. To get a better idea, visit Bankrate.com to enter your own information and see how long it will take you to pay off your credit cards with just the minimum payment.
- Redo your budget. You might need to rework your budget a little to be able to afford to pay off your credit card sooner. If you don't have a budget, make one. Not only will it help you see where your money is going each month, it will also see where you have room to cut and put towards your debt reduction. For example, if you get a coffee on the way to work twice a week, making your own will save you $40 a month to put towards paying off your cards.
- Look for ways to generate more money. There are actually many ways you can earn more money without getting an extra job. For example, you can have a garage sale and put the proceeds towards paying down your debts. Or, you can sell items you don't use anymore and put the money towards paying off your credit cards.
- Put "windfalls" towards debt reduction. Unexpected money, such as a gift, bonus at work, or tax refund, can be put towards paying down your credit cards. Best of all, because it's unexpected, you won't even miss it.
- Consider a part-time job. If you're really serious about paying down your credit cards faster, you may want to think about getting a part-time job. Seasonal work is fairly easy to obtain, particularly around the holidays. Even a couple hundred dollars a month for a few months can help you pay off your credit cards quickly.
Paying off your credit cards faster can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars in fees and interest payments. If your goal is to pay off some debt, with a little creativity and discipline, you can pay your credit cards off faster.