Ask a friend what resolutions they made for 2004 and you're bound to hear them reply "Pay off my credit cards." Ask them how they planned on reaching that goal and many of them will not have a clear cut answer.
The obvious first step to paying off credit card debt or paying down credit debt load is to cut back or eliminate the use of your credit cards. For some people this first step can often be the most difficult. If you're used to spending freely with plastic and worrying about the consequences later, it1s difficult to break free from this "buy now, pay later" attitude.
To gain control of their careless credit card spending habits, some people cut up their credit cards, therefore making it impossible to use them. Others lock up their credit cards or hide them in a safe place and vow to use them only in an emergency.
The second step to paying down credit debt is to pay more than the minimum balance due. Most credit card companies require a minimum monthly payment of 2.5% of the outstanding balance. For example, if you have an outstanding balance of $1,100.00 on a credit card charging an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 18.9% your minimum monthly payment would be $27.50. It will take you 66 months or 5.5 years to pay off your balance of $1,100.00 making the minimum payments. The credit card company will make $676.94 in interest from your use of their credit card.
Forget that minimum balance due.
Monthly payments are purposely kept low by the credit card companies so that they can earn as much as possible from the interest rate charged to you the consumer. Paying just the minimum payment will keep you tangled in a credit web for years and years to come.
If you've been paying only the minimum due month after month, ask yourself this question, "Do I have an extra $10.00 I could apply to this month's payment?" I'm sure that most of us could find some way to come up with an extra $10.00 for the month. Try cutting out a few cups of coffee or lunches at your nearby fast food outlets and, in no time flat, you'll have saved up the extra money that you need.
Now, it's time to unveil "The Simple $10.00 Debt Elimination Solution." Take that extra $10.00 and add it to the minimum monthly payment above, therefore making a payment of $37.50. By adding just that $10.00 a month to your minimum payment, you'll trim 23 months, or nearly two years, off of that credit debt!
On top of that, you'll save $277.00 in interest alone! That's money you can put toward savings or paying off other debts. Imagine how much you'd be able to save if you applied this same simple strategy to each of your other credit card debts!
Paying down credit debt doesn't always mean having to make huge monthly payments or sacrifices. It just takes some basic planning and a simple effective strategy to make it work.
James Dimmitt is editor of "To Your Credit," a FREE weekly money-saving newsletter. He is also author of "Identity Theft -- How To Avoid Becoming the Next Victim!" located at: http://tinyurl.com/bc45. For more details, also visit: http://tinyurl.com/mjqh.© 2004 James Dimmitt
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