Keys to Getting Credit Card Debt Under Control

Don't let your debt tear apart your relationship.
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If you were paying a bill every month for $100 and were getting absolutely nothing in return, you'd want to do everything you could to get rid of that bill. The truth is, when you have $8,000 of credit card debt with a 15 percent APR, your monthly interest charge is $100. Getting your credit card debt under control is critical to your future financial success. That way, you can stop paying for past purchases and start saving for your future together.

Acknowledge the Problem

Credit card debt isn't a good thing, but hiding it from each other isn't going to make things better. When you have debt, it's important to get it out in the open, talk about it and make sure you feel like you're on the same team when it comes to controlling the debt. It's also helpful to take a look at what you usually buy with your credit cards and make a commitment to stop spending beyond your means. The problem is only going to get worse if you don't make some changes now.

Make a Balanced Budget

You must live on a balanced budget, and now is the time to start. Don't slowly transition to cutting out credit card dependence, but make the tough choices now to slash your spending. Making a balanced budget helps you figure out where you want to spend your money and make a plan for how you will spend no more than the money you're earning. You can also include other priorities in your budget, like saving for retirement or building an emergency fund. Once you have a balanced budget, you don't need to use your credit cards anymore and can focus on paying them down.

Know What You Owe

Although getting the exact figures for how much you owe and what interest rates you're paying can be disheartening, it's important to gather this information and write it down. For each credit card, list the current balance, interest rate and current minimum payment. If some of your credit cards have very high interest rates, you can call the phone number on the back and ask for a lower interest rate. It doesn't always work, but if it does, that will help you get out of debt faster.

Make Extra Payments

In accordance with the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, credit card companies must list on the bill how long it will take to pay off your balance if you're making only the minimum payment. If you want to be out of debt sooner, you must make extra payments. Start by setting up automatic minimum payments on all of your cards to make sure you don't get stuck with fees and penalty rates. Then put as much money as possible every month toward making an extra payment on one of your cards. You may start with the card with the lowest balance or the card with the highest interest rate, depending on whether you'd prefer the emotional boost of paying off a card or the decreased financial burden of a high interest rate.

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