Five Steps to Getting Out of Credit Card Debt
Ever heard of free money?
Of course not, it doesn’t exist. In my world however, it did.
This ‘free money’ came in the form of a cute little card that fit neatly in my wallet, pocket and palm – my credit card. I’d sometimes forget my phone or keys, but I’d never leave home without it.
Don’t get me wrong, having a credit card isn’t necessarily bad. I just took it to another level. I had a charge-it-and-forget-it attitude. I charged everything from bottles of water to vacations. What got me in trouble was that I often paid the minimum and continuing charging away. In my world, as long as I was paying the minimum, everything was fine.
Before I knew it, my balances were out of control. Yes, I say balanceS because I had two credit cards and both were nearing the limit. Eventually, I had to get a personal line of credit just to pay off those credits.
You know what I did afterwards? I went right back to charging those two freshly cleared credit cards. By the time I finally woke up and smelled the debt, my consumer debt had reached $34,000!
It was one of the hardest things I had to do and I had a few false starts, but I eventually got my cleared my debt. I learned a lot through that debt repayment process, but here are the five steps that helped me get to being debt-free.
Before even thinking about the next steps or how you’ll ever be able to get out of debt, just freeze. Stop buying things you don’t need and most of all, stop using credit cards. This is a short period of time, just a few days to wrap your mind around the reality of your debt situation. Open those statements and panic, cry or scream if you have to.
2. Reassess and change your attitude
My biggest problem was my attitude towards credit cards. Of course I knew, that I’d have to pay back all that credit, but when I was in the moment, I just wasn’t thinking about that. All that mattered was getting those cute shoes before the sale ended and my little plastic card was the answer. I had to live by the words ‘ I will not use my credit card to finance my out of control shopping habits. It is not free money’. I couldn’t change my attitude without changing my lifestyle and spending habits – they go hand in hand.
3. Cash is your best friend
The benefit of using cash is that you can see it dwindling. You have time to panic and realize how much money you’re spending because your wallet is getting thinner after each purchase. Credit cards, on the other hand, are so convenient that you don’t even realize how much money you’re spending. For instance, dropping $200 in cash made me sweat, but that same amount on credit barely made me blink. If you don’t see it, you don’t feel the pain.
4. A budget is your second best friend
In the days when I was spending like a rockstar, the thought of creating a budget made me dry heave. Once I got over the melodrama and created one, it changed my life. It helped able to keep track of where my money was going and I no longer threw my arms up and yelled “where did my money go” at the end of every month.
5. Pay, pay, pay
My debt repayment became another bill I had to pay every month and I did whatever I could to save in other areas to make more payments towards my debt. I quickly realized that my income wasn’t going to cut it and I needed to make more money, so I got a side hustle and every penny from that side hustle went right towards my debt.
It took me a year and I all I remember of 2011 was working my butt off and wanting to slap myself for getting into debt in the first place, but I reached my goal of paying off every penny of that $34,000 by the end of the year. I’ve started using my credit cards again, but I pay off the balance right away.
What’s your attitude towards credit cards?
Have you ever been in credit card debt?