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Friday, November 16, 2007

Credit Cards Problem? Fix it in 5 steps

It can be hard to know where to start with paying on your credit cards. With tuition, rent, and food on your mind, you may have skip on paying your card. That will hurt you now and in the future. Here’s five steps on paying off your credit card debt.

1. Get your current balance on all your credit cards. If you’ve been tucking away the bills as they come in, you may be in for a huge surprise. Many credit cards charge $39 for late fees and another$39 for being over the limit.

2. Write down the balance the due date, and the interest rate of all the credit cards. Write the highest interest rates first and continue in descending order.

3.Go ahead and call all your credit cards and ask for a lower rate. See if you can get a lower rate, even if it’s only 1%. The goal is to reduce your debt and make your payments go further.

4. Examine if you can switch the balance over to a 0% interest card for a few months. Sometimes you can do a balance transfer. Dump as much as you can into the credit card bill to lower the balance. Watch out, though, for balance transfer fees or any other switching costs. This may actually turn out to be worse than stay at your old card.

5. Pay as much as you can on the highest interest card. Part of the debt snowball method is to pay the most on the highest interest card and pay the minimum on the others. When you pay off the first card, put all the debt payments from it into the second card and pay minimum on the others. Continue until you pay off the cards.

JD from Get Rich Slowly has more articles explaining debt snowballs. His approach is to pay your lowest balance first as a way to build mental momentum towards your goals.Trent from The Simple Dollar has a variation called the scared straight debt snowball. He also compares Suze Orman and David Ramsey’s methods of eliminating debt.

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