Credit Card Debt: Time To Pay Up

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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Credit card debt can pile up fast. Every week new offers arrive in the mail, enticing us to sign up for a new credit card.

Get 15% off anything in the store when you open your new account! Before too long you've got a card for every local department store, electronics warehouse, home and office supply, and book emporium. Who can resist the credit card that gives you airline mileage points every time you make a purchase?

With a wallet full of credit, we spend more each day on items we would consider more carefully before purchasing, if we were using cash. Cards detach the buyer from reality and allow us to make impulsive buys. Immediate gratification becomes routine. We need more, consume more, and depend more on our credit cards for everything, and before we know it, we have incurred more debt, at a ridiculously high rate of interest, than we can handle.

Once you are determined to get a grip on your credit card debt, there are certain steps you can take to initiate paying them down. First of all, you must pay more than the minimum amount due each month to start making a dent in your balance. This probably means changing basic spending habits, and putting away a bit more cash weekly, in order to get rid of your debt. How can you do this?

Start by taking a look at your food expenditures. By bringing lunch to work, purchasing fewer designer coffee drinks and eliminating a couple of meals outside of the home, you are saving money. In fact, with a conscious effort put towards being less flippant about how much you spend on food, you'll find you have tapped into an immediate way to save enough money to start paying down your debt.

Get out your pencil and paper and make a list of all the areas in which you can spend less each month. Do you really need to shop each Saturday and add another shirt to your closet full of shirts? Now make a list of necessary weekly expenditures and give yourself a test. How frugal can you be for just one week? Could you get by with cash only? Chances are, by the end of that week, you'll recognize some extravagant patterns of spending, that can be modified enough to leave more money in the bank for paying off your cards.

Pay off completely, cards with small balances, then cancel them, and rip them up. Scaling down to just one card, makes spending more trackable and less seductive. Once you put your mind to eliminating debt from your life, you'll find ways to accomplish it, even if it's a little bit at a time. It will make you feel more in control...there is a reason why it is called, being "free" from debt.


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