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Cutting Your Debt Down Faster

Aug 17, 2007
Once you're in debt it can be hard to dig your way back out. There's a discouraging cycle of interest making the total amount you have to pay even higher, and if you continue to use your credit cards while making only minimum payments you can find yourself trapped.

But there are options other than bankruptcy to help yourself out of this cycle. Bankruptcy is a quick fix to the immediate debt problems, but it doesn't solve the problems of your spending habits and it will haunt your credit records for years to come. You want to find a better way.

A currently popular way to pay down your credit card debts is to pick a card and start paying it down, just doing the minimum on the others. Pay as much as possible on that one card. When it's done, start on the next.

This can be very powerful for people who are miserable having to pay on multiple credit cards. Those minimum payments can make your life pretty miserable, so cutting down over time on the number of cards in use and being paid on can be quite helpful.

Now let's try a more difficult situation. One card, high balance.

In this case the first thing I would recommend is calling the card issuer to see about getting a lower interest rate. This step alone can be a huge help. Even a drop in rate of a few percentage points will save you a nice bit of money over time.

The next step is to figure out how much money you can pay on the card each time you get paid. Many people get paid twice a month, so if you can manage a payment with each paycheck, you will pay less interest. Many cards calculate your interest based on your average throughout the month, so that extra payment drops that average a little.

You can try paying more often than that if you like, but remember that many credit cards only allow you to make payments three times per month.

Transferring your debt to a 0% interest rate card may be a possibility as well. Make sure you check how long the 0% will be in effect, what rate you can expect to pay afterward, and whether or not there is a balance transfer fee. Sometimes that 0% interest rate can be mighty expensive.

There are other tricks to paying down your debts. A big one is to look at your spending and cut out all the unnecessary stuff. This can be hard, as it may mean bringing lunch to work, going to fewer movies and maybe cutting back on the extras in your cable TV or telephone service. But every bit not going to extras can be put to good use paying down that credit card.

Breaking the habits that got you into debt in the first place is vital. If you don't make changes in how you spend, you will probably find yourself in debt all over again.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.knowyourcreditcards.com/ where she gives advice on choosing and using credit cards wisely. Visit her site for information about credit card fees to watch out for .
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