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How to Handle Credit Card Debt

Aug 7, 2008
Credit card debt is one of those things that once people get into it, they aren't sure how to get out of it. One thing is sure: paying minimum payments is not going to do it. The only thing you will cover with minimum payments is the interest and if you're lucky, a couple of dollars off the balance. The key is trying to figure out how to make more than minimum payments in order to get rid of the mounds of credit card debt.

One of the best plans is to take any extra money you have and add it to the credit card
with the lowest balance. Why not the highest interest rate? Simple: you can pay off the one with the lowest balance quicker, then take the money you were paying on that one (both minimum payment and extra) and put it on the credit card with the next highest balance in addition to that card's minimum payment. Continue to follow this program until you have wiped out all of your credit card debt. Keep in mind while you are doing this, you must refrain from using the cards except for emergencies until you have finished paying the balances in full.

If you have several credit cards, plan to cancel those with the highest interest rates and/or lowest credit lines. Before you even begin working on your program for paying off the credit card debt, you can begin to cancel those cards that you do not plan to use after you pay them in full. The average person needs no more than two credit cards, a Visa and a MasterCard. You do not need two or three of each unless you frequently travel on business and have different frequent flyer programs for which your company reimburses you. In that case, make it a point to use those cards only for business travel and put them away in a safe place until you need them.

It's very easy to get into debt with credit cards, but it's much more difficult to get out.
One has the best of intentions, thinking they will pay off the cards when the bill comes in or use it only for emergencies. The problem is when you have a credit card, especially one with a high credit line, everything is suddenly an "emergency" including that new designer purse or the shoes that are on sale. Learn to recognize when you really need to use your credit card and use cash for everything else.

Setting rules for yourself is a great idea when it comes to your credit cards. If you think you may be tempted to use the cards for non-emergencies, you can choose to let someone you trust hold the card for you. Instruct them not to hand it over to you unless they agree you have a true emergency. Just be sure you trust only someone loyal who you don't think would ever use your card behind your back. Parents or other family members are great options for this plan.
About the Author
James Copper is a writer for http://www.just35.com
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