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how to pay off credit card debt

“I think a lot of us do become ashamed. We don’t even have enough to make our ends meet. Being in debt is not living life.” That’s what a middle-aged woman from Baltimore who works the night shift said when she participated in a focus group about debt.

Her story only gets worse. Her debt payments were more than she made each month. She wasn’t able to even make the minimum payments due to all of her creditors. One of them took court action, which ultimately led to her arrest.

For many, debt is a cause of a lot of stress, sleepless nights, and friction in relationships. Has debt caused any unease or anxiety in your life? 

If you allow your debt to manage you instead of you managing your debt, you will waste a lot of money and time. It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, when used appropriately, managed properly and paid quickly, debt can be a tool to help you instead of harm you. 

Should You Pay Off Credit Card Debt Early?

Pay Off Credit Card Debt Early

If you are wondering whether it is worth it to pay off credit card debt early, then the answer is a resounding YES!!! The obvious reason involves saving a ton of money by not paying more interest than necessary. But there is much more at stake, and it might not be as obvious. 

Dr. Galen Buckwalter, a research psychologist, asserts financial trauma, a dysfunctional reaction to chronic financial stress, can be likened to the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Debt plays a role in financial trauma. So, debt can negatively impact your physical and emotional health.

But, there is good news. A 2019 university research study, considered to be the first of its kind, concludes reducing debt improves a person’s mental health, and I would add physical health, too. If you get rid of debt, you will feel better and make better decisions. 

If you have suffered the negative consequences of credit card debt, and you want a better future, you have come to the right place. Let’s get rid of that debt.

How To Pay Off Credit Card Debt

How to pay off credit card debt

We have one simple rule around here to get ahead: Spend less than you earn. There’s more to it than that, but everything is built off that foundational philosophy. When you spend less than you earn, there is money to pay down debt; money to save; money to invest; and money to enjoy life.

How Much Do You Owe?

If you want to eliminate your credit card debt, then you need to start by figuring out how deep in debt you are and how much money can be used to pay it off.

Do you know how much credit card debt you have? The average American has four credit cards and carries a balance of around $6,200. If you run these numbers (provided by Experian) through Debt.com’s credit card payoff calculator (found below) and make only minimum payments, you will find the results aren’t pretty:

  • If you had one card with $6,200 in debt, it will take 180 monthly payments (15 years worth) to pay off the debt when just paying the minimum amount
  •  Over the 15 years, you will fork over $11,900 to pay off the debt — that’s $5,700 in interest!

The same findings reported by Experian show credit card debt has risen to record levels: $830 billion through the first half of 2019. The amount of credit card debt is higher than during the Great Recession of a decade ago. 

How Much Can You Pay?

The Debt.com credit card payoff calculator (above) provides great insights into what the true cost of your debt is. The standard credit card requires a minimum payment that equals 3% of how much is owed. Let’s be real: If you only make minimum payments every month you will never get out of credit card debt. You have to pay more

When we plugged in numbers for the average person, the minimum 3% payment started out as $186 a month. Here is the breakdown if you can pay more than the minimum:

  • Pay 3% of what is owed each month (starts at $186) = $5,700 in interest
  • Pay 3.5% (starts at $217) a month = $4,300 in interest (save $1,400)
  • Pay 4% (starts at $248) a month = $3,500 in interest (save $2,200)

How would an extra $2,200 rock your world? If you would commit to paying just a little bit more money toward your debt, then you will have that $2,200 to spend as you please.

How Can I Pay Off My Credit Cards Faster?

If you commit to getting out of debt, then you can do it faster than you would ever imagine by employing this one hack: The debt snowball.

Before anyone ever heard of Dave Ramsey and his debt snowball, there was Mary Hunt, a suburban Mom who got deep into debt and managed to get herself out by creating what she called the rapid debt repayment plan.

The two methods are the same: Payoff your smallest debt first, then whatever you were paying on your smallest debt, apply that payment to your next smallest debt.

This means no new debt and making the same payment every single month until your debt is gone.

Best Way to Pay Off Multiple Credit Cards

If you have more than one credit card, try this to speed the process: Incorporate the debt snowball, but pay more than the minimum on the lowest credit card. Paying an additional amount will accelerate your payoff date. Paying an additional $10 a month will result in being free from debt in 44 months instead of 47. Paying an additional $25 a month drops it to 40 months.

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt When You Have No Money

When you owe more in debt, groceries, phone and utility bills each month than you make, it is a recipe for financial ruin. How in the world can you pay off credit card debt when you don’t have enough money to live from one paycheck to the next?

Something has to change. You need more available cash to take care of your obligations and needs. 

How can you do this when you don’t have two extra pennies to rub together? A good place to start is our ULTIMATE SAVING GUIDE (if the potential of freeing up thousands of dollars in a year interests you, check it out). However, consider these options:

  1. Write down how much money you make in a month (e.g. $3,000)
  2. Decide how much money you want to save using the Debt.com credit card payoff calculator (e.g. save $300)
  3. Spend what remains (e.g. $3,000-$300=$2,700) Create a list of your monthly expenses and what they cost. Make a plan to spend all that remains (e.g. $2,700) and not a penny more. 
  4. Follow your plan and you just saved money! Put that extra money towards your debt and become debt-free faster (and save thousands in interest!)

If you have gone through Steps 1-3 and think there is no way to cut costs or increase your revenue, think again. I want to share a few tricks to jumpstart the change that will put more cash into your wallet to pay off your credit card debt.

Tricks to Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Here are some of our favorite cashback apps that will lower your costs for things you already purchase we like to call free money. 

Dosh

One of the easiest ways to make free money (so you can pay off those credit cards) is the Dosh app.

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When you link your debit or credit card to the app, you will earn cash back rewards every time you swipe, tap or dip your card. Because you are trying to pay down credit card debt, it might be better to link a debit card. Dosh has paid out more than $25 million to its users since 2016.

Claim your piece of the pie when you download the Dosh app now and get a bonus buck in your account. See, you are already making money with Dosh. 

Ibotta

There’s a burger chain with the slogan “You gotta eat.” Ibotta is a cashback app for groceries, and its slogan should be: “You gotta eat, so you might as well get paid!” The average Ibotta user receives $150 back a year, an average of $12.50 a month. You select the grocery store where you will shop, link your loyalty card, and select the items you want to buy.. What are you waiting for?

Sign up for Ibotta through us and get a $20 bonus and start getting cashback when you shop for groceries. 

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Ebates/Rakuten

Do you like two-fers? Two for the price of one? How about when the price is free? What everyone knew as Ebates is now Rakuten, but you will still receive up to 40% Cash Back at up to 2,500 stores online and in-store. Here’s the two for one:

  1. Sign up for Rakuten through us and get a $10 bonus.
  2. Install the Rakuten Cash Back Button in your Chrome (or Safari) browser and put your free money-making on autopilot.

Whenever you go to shop on a site that partners with Rakuten, the extension will pop up to activate Cash Back rewards. Rakuten will pay you quarterly. Start collecting free money automatically every time you shop online.

Use Rakuten, and use that money to pay off credit card debt.

BillShark

When you reviewed your monthly expenses and subscriptions, did you find a way to cut any of those costs? If not, then let BillShark see what it can do to reduce your expenses.

The founders of BillShark believe we are overpaying for TV, cellular, and internet services, and they want to negotiate lower rates on your behalf. Download the app, upload your bills, and BillShark’s negotiators will get to work.

BillShark has saved the average person $300 a year. That might be enough to pay off your smallest card.

Sign up for the service (direct link). You have nothing to lose and possibly $300 to gain.

Sign up for bill shark to lower your bills today

Also See: Best Bill Negotiators to Lower Your Bills Today

Gabi

Earlier, as you went over your expenses, auto insurance was listed as a potential place to save some money. If you don’t want to hassle with your current agent to see how you can save money, then spend two minutes with Gabi