Getting out of debt may seem daunting, but it’s not impossible provided there’s a set strategy to stick to. Laura Rowley of Yahoo Finance says the best way to claw out of the credit card hole is to tackle debt from the top down, but that doesn’t mean start with the highest balance.
“You really want to pay off the highest interest card first,” says Rowley. “So your very first step should be to take out all your credit card bills and rank them from highest to lowest interest rate.”
That done, it’s time to start writing checks, but avoid paying the bare minimum. In order to make any real progress, Stephanie Emma Pfeffer of Family Circle says it’s necessary to go above and beyond.
“Even an extra $10 or $15 a month makes a big difference in the long term, and that strategy ensures that your money is going toward the balance and not towards the interest fees,” says Pfeffer.
Once the first card is paid off, that doesn’t mean extra money in The pocket. Instead, experts say to immediately refocus on card number two.
“The concept is to snowball down on your credit cards,” says Rowley.
In other words, whatever amount was being paid to the first card should be added to the amount paid to the second.
“And then when that’s paid off, roll down the amount that you were paying to both those cards to the next card,” says Rowley. “So you have a large snowball of cash rolling into those cards, and that’s the fastest way to pay them off.”
Finally, avoid temptation — stop adding new charges, even if that means implementing a very literal spending freeze.
“Put them in a bowl of water, put them in the freezer, freeze them,” says Rowley.
“If they’re not in your wallet, then you can’t use them,” adds Pfeffer. “And it’s really that simple. Credit cards, in this case, should only be used in a case of emergency, not a trip to the mall.”