Credit card debt can creep up on you fast. One minute you’re paying off the full amount each month and then, through no fault of your own, suddenly you can only pay the minimum. Whether it’s shopping, holidays or just paying the groceries, credit cards can be maxed out quicker than you think.
Lots of people have relatively high credit card debt that they can service, just. But scraping by just paying the minimum will cost you a lot more in the long run. In addition, any unexpected costs could tip you into the area of problem debt, when you can’t even afford to service it.
Time to tackle it head on
Right, so you’ve decided that you want to finally sort out all this credit card debt. Great, you’re on the way to financial freedom. But the road is long and difficult and there will be many temptations along the way.
The next thing you must do is to stop the spending. The more you keep adding to the cards, the tougher it will be each month. It can be hard – half of us (48 per cent) admit to falling into debt as a result of our social lives. An amazing 58 per cent say they don’t like to appear stingy in front of family and friends, a trait that is getting them into debt. If you can’t afford it, don’t stick it on the plastic and put off the pain for another day.
Jane Symonds from the Money Advice Service says people racking up more and more credit card should just say ‘no’. “I’d urge anyone in debt, due to their social spending, to take action now to avoid getting any further into the red and instead work at clearing it. You’d be surprised at how empowering saying ‘no’ can feel when you see how healthy your bank balance looks, and you can spend the money on things you really value or need,” she explains. You could cut up the cards to make sure you don’t spend any more.
Start a plan
If you have a load of credit card debt spread out across different cards, it’s time to sit down and work out a monthly plan for paying it all back. You can use a credit card calculator to work out exactly how much you owe, and how much you are forking out in interest.
You may wish to consolidate the debt onto one or even two cards. Balance transfers offered by many of the providers can be a good way to start this process as you can cut the amount you pay in interest each month as these usually come with an interest-free period. That will help reduce the minimum you owe each month, meaning you can start paying back more of the outstanding debt.
If this is still not enough, you may wish to consider a debt management solution to repay in manageable amounts.