Debt is a bit cruel: It's so quick and easy to rack up, yet so slow and painful to pay down. If carrying debt feels like an oppressive weight on your shoulders (think of how it's hurting your credit score!), make paying it off your priority. Here are some tips to get you out of the red and into the black faster.
Have a look at your credit cards and see how their interest rates compare. Pay off the ones with higher interest rates first — meaning, pay the minimum on the lower interest rate cards, and put more of your dollars on the highest interest rate card. If possible, transfer your higher interest rate debt onto your lower rate cards. Sometimes there's a fee for doing this, so crunch some numbers to see if making the switch is worthwhile.
If you qualify for a line of credit, you can consolidate your credit card debt onto it, which will have a lower interest rate. Once you put your debt onto a line of credit, set a goal to pay the most you can each month. And of course, don't start racking up more debt onto your now empty credit cards. In fact, consider leaving them at home rather than in your wallet so you can resist tempation.
If, for example, your parents give you some money for your birthday, or if you receive a bonus at the office or hold a garage sale and make some dough, put this cash toward your debt. It's money you were not expecting to have, so this windfall shouldn't affect your regular living expenses. If you feel as though you've been depriving yourself of a treat, use only a small portion of this extra money to spend on something fun for yourself.
To help keep you motivated, keep a running tally of how your debt is shrinking, much like how Karyn Bosnak describes in her book Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back. It will be satisfying to watch and will help keep you focused and on track.
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