Smart Finance Practice: Cut Your Credit Card Debt

Does it seem like your credit card has taken over your life? If you have debt coming out of your ears and it's already affecting the way you live, then it's time you take positive steps to manage your finances and get your life back.


First, pay more than the minimum payment required. This is actually just a payment towards the interest that is growing on your principal. It's not good business practice for anyone but the credit companies since it could take more than ten years for you to pay off the debt if you stick only to the minimum. Adding a small amount eats at the principal and allows you to pay less on interest the next month, since the interest is only based on the principal.


Why pay more than you have to? Shop around for a credit card that offers a lower interest rate. You may have less frills and freebies than with your higher interest card, but paying a higher interest rate actually negates those freebies. You could also let your credit card company know that you will be canceling your credit card as soon as you find another company that will charge you less. They may lower your rates themselves.


Pay your debt first. Of course you should have money in savings but what use is it when it's being eaten up by higher interest with your card? When you do the computations and realize that you're paying an average of 18% on your credit card interest and receiving 11% on your securities, you know that you're losing a lot of money.


If you own your own home, you may be able to take out a home equity loan to pay off all your debts. It's a win-win situation: you clear your debts and can deduct the interest payments on your mortgage from your personal income and State tax.


Word of warning: once you are clear of your debts, don't take out your credit cards and make the same mistake all over again!