Noticed your credit card debt going up? You aren’t the only one.
During the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, credit card debt dropped, which makes sense. People were worried about losing hours or getting laid off, so they only spent on essentials. Social distancing means msot people stayed in, binging new shows or their old faves.
As the world attempts to return to some semblance of normal life, credit card debt unfortunately is, too. For some people, their credit spending is higher than pre-pandemic.
4 out of 10 people have higher credit card debt than they did before the pandemic. This number might grow, too, with 2021 seeing the highest rate of debt increase in the past 5 years.
Why are people suddenly spending more money? No one is quite sure, but the desire to get “back to normal” is the biggest suspect. Everyone wants to get back to going out with friends, treating themselves, and returning to business as usual, despite rising inflation.
So how can you attack your credit card debt? It boils down to a few simple steps.
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Check your spending
Learning how to pay off credit card debt can feel overwhelming. The good news is that the first step is easy: take a look at your spending. Chances are good you’ve been overspending a bit, so try a “spending freeze”.
Use those binge-watching skills we all honed during the pandemic, or look for fun and free things to do with friends. Once you slow down on spending that’s not absolutely essential, paying off that debt will be much easier.
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Increase your income
Chances are good that you’ve been spending time doing things that cost money. During your spending freeze, what will you do with all of this extra time?
Simple, pick up an additional source of income. The gig economy is growing faster than ever, with jobs ranging from writing to painting to odd jobs. Taking on a freelance gig or remote job is a great way to fill some extra time and start paying down debt – especially if it’s something you love!
Not up for remote work? You still have options. There are dozens of marketplace websites that will help you sell stuff you don’t use that’s just lying around.
If you don’t have stuff you’re willing to part with, try donating plasma. You can make up to $1,200 in your first month. The best part? Donating plasma is mostly just sitting down and letting the machine do its thing. You can chill with your favorite activity and get paid for it and save lives. It’s the world’s best side gig!
Make a list, check it twice
Ok, so you’re on a spending freeze, you’re making some extra money… now what? Now, it’s time to make a list. Write down all of the credit cards you have, along with their current balance and yearly interest rate.
This way, you can see plainly which credit cards are costing you the most. Then, you can do something about it. Keep referring to this list as you pay off your cards. Not only is this a great way to get started, it’s an awesome way to track your progress!
Take concrete steps
You might be tempted to pay off the card with the highest balance first, but there’s a better way to attack your debt.
Pay off the cards with the highest interest rates first. One way to do this quickly is by finding a 0% balance transfer deal. This allows you to get rid of high-interest debt instantly, so you don’t have to worry about the interest growing as you try to pay off the balance.
A quick note, these balance transfers sometimes offers only apply to consumers with a credit score of 700 or better. Visit freescore360, Credit Sesame 100% Free Credit Score & Credit Monitoring, Credit Scores Review sites to instantly check your credit (without hurting it).
One last thing about 0% balance transfers: they’re a time-bomb. Often that 0% rate only lasts for a short time. Then, a high interest rate kicks in. Do the math and figure out how large of a payment you’ll need to make each month to beat the clock.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Does that 0% transfer still leave you trying to pay under the shadow of a huge interest rate? Don’t panic. You’ve still got some options.
There are non-profit credit counseling services that DON’T provide you with a 0% balance transfer. Instead, they help you consolidate your balances, and find a lower-loan interest rate to pay them off. This way, your payments (and budget) are much easier to manage .
You can find local help by searching “non-profit credit counseling services”. Nothing nearby? The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can help you out no matter where you live.
Keep moving forward
When you realize your credit card debt has gotten out of control, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Your financial situation can feel like a tangled mess, and you might feel tempted to give up and live with debt forever.
Don’t do it! Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to paying off debt. You’ve already taken the first step, and the rest are simple. Slow your spending, bring in some extra income, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t give up.
You got this.
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