If you feel like you’re in over your head in credit card debt, you’re certainly not alone. According to the Federal Reserve, Americans owe roughly $1.08 trillion in revolving debt. Getting yourself into overwhelming credit card debt is all too easy, but digging yourself back out can often feel hopeless – especially if you can only afford to make the minimum monthly payments.
When you carry over the balances on your credit cards from month to month, it can have a detrimental effect on your credit score and make it challenging to obtain new loans or credit. Your credit utilization ratio – the balance you owe compared to your credit limit – accounts for nearly a third of your credit score. If you are nearing your limits on your credit cards and miss payments regularly, your credit score may be so low it interferes with your ability to rent an apartment or get a new job.
If you are ready to tackle your credit card debt and improve your credit score, here are three proven strategies to help you pay off your outstanding balances:
The snowball method
In the debt snowball method, your goal is to make the minimum payments every month on all of your credit cards and put any extra money towards the card with the lowest balance. Once you pay off the card with the lowest balance, you apply the payment you would have made to the lowest balance card towards the card with the next lowest balance, and so on.
The avalanche method
The debt avalanche method is nearly identical to the debt snowball method, but in the debt avalanche method, you focus on the credit card with the highest interest rate first regardless of its balance. This approach ultimately saves you more money than the snowball method since less interest accrues on your debt in the long run.
The snowflake method
While both the debt snowball and avalanche methods require you to budget a specific amount of money each month to repay your debt, the debt snowflake method is much more random. The snowflake method relies on small amounts of money you find in your budget each month to put towards your debt. It isn’t the most reliable method, but it’s a good approach if you don’t have any wiggle room in your monthly budget.
No matter which method you choose, it’s essential that you put as much money as you can to pay off your debt. With careful planning and time, you will soon be enjoying a debt-free life.