If you are one of the millions of people who are unfortunate enough to carry credit card debt, you know that it is nothing to be taken lightly. Credit card debt can be crippling and devastating to your your personal net worth, your credit score and your quality of life. If it goes on long enough you may begin to feel like you will never be able to get out from underneath it.
Take heart. It may take a lot longer than you would like, but you can get out from under that burden of credit card debt.
So, what do you do? Where do you start to dig yourself out? Some tips:
* Stop using your credit cards. If you are used to depending on using your credit cards to pay for everything this can feel overwhelming and impossible. It's not, but it won't be easy.
* Pull out all of your credit card statements. Include department store credit cards, gasoline credit cards and bank credit cards. List all of them on a sheet of paper along with the balances, monthly minimum payments and interest rates.
* Call each company and see if you can negotiate a lower interest rate. This will take a lot of courage since the first person you speak to is going to be a customer service representative who probably has no real authority to lower your interest rate. You will probably have to be persistent and work your way through several different people before you are actually speaking to someone who can either work with you or not. Try to remain calm. Make notes of who you speak with and what their responses are. If you are able to lower your rate on even one credit card, this is to be considered a victory.
* After you have contacted each credit card company organize your list by interest rate, highest to lowest. Transfer as much of the balance from the credit card with the highest interest rate to the ones with lower interest rates.
* If you are considering transferring any part of your debt onto a new card with an amazing introductory interest rate be sure to read the fine print first. That amazing introductory interest rate may expire sooner than you think. Also be sure to note how much the transfer fee is. It may not be worth it.
* Concentrate on paying off the balance on the card with the highest interest rate first. Always pay more than the minimum amount due, as much more as you can without putting yourself in the position of being cash poor and having to use your credit card for daily living expenses. Always make your payment as soon as possible after you get your bill to avoid further interest charges and possible late fees. Be sure that you continue making timely payments on all of your other cards at the same time.
* When the day arrives that you are sending the final amount due on that card celebrate your success by patting yourself on the back, not going out and buying something!
* Apply the amount that you were sending to that first credit card company every month to the second one on the list. The balance on that card should be substantially lower than it originally was if you have been making regular payments and not using it, so it should not take as long to pay off as the first one.
* Once you have two credit cards with zero balances, cancel the one with the highest interest rate. Having too much available credit can be just as damaging for your credit rating as having too much debt.
* Keep working your way through your list using this process until you have erased your credit card debt. With patience and persistence, one day you will be out from under that debt and able to enjoy the quality of life you were intended to have.