It’s the start of the New Year. You have another year to get your personal finances in order.

 

Are you ready to start?

 

Let’s make this as easy and as painless as possible. Let’s start with tackling your credit card debt.

If you don’t have credit card debt, congratulations. Send this post to a loved one who may be struggling in this area

If you carry credit card debt, follow this plan to pay it off.

 


Which credit card do I pay off first?

If you have multiple credit cards, identify which one has the lowest interest rate. Contact that credit card company to see if you can transfer all your other balances to it. That credit card becomes your primary card.

Do not cancel your other credit cards. It may have an adverse impact on your credit score.

Instead shred them so you don’t use them. Put the shredded cards in a container to remind you through out the year. Use a decorative bowl or glass jar.

You may want to keep one credit card as a back-up in case there is an issue with your primary credit card.

If you can’t consolidate your balances, then pick one card to completely pay off this year.

It could be the card with the highest interest. It could be the card with the lowest balance. There is no right or wrong answer, just pick a card to pay off.

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If you have several cards, put them all in a bag. Shake the bag. Pull out one credit card. That card is the one you’ll pay off this year.[/styled_box]

 


Commit to paying in full any new balance.

Before you begin paying off your credit card debt, commit to paying in full any new balance. It’ll be an endless battle if you continue to add more credit card debt than you pay off.

Write this commitment and put it in your wallet. Make a screen saver to remind you of this new commitment.


Where do I find money to pay off credit card debt?

The amount of time it takes you to pay off your credit card debt depends on how aggressive you want to be with your payments. Here are some ideas to find money to pay off credit card debt.

  1. Shift from spending to reducing credit card debt.

With credit card companies sending year-end summaries, you can easily figure out which area you spend the most money.

It’s typical to spend more money than necessary on food, especially if you dine out frequently. Here’s your opportunity to shift spending in food/dining out to reducing your credit card debt.

To stay on track with how much you want to spend on food/dining out use an app. Keep it simple and just track spending on food/dining out.

If you still need more money to reduce your credit card debt, look at how much you spend in personal care. This category includes shopping, salon, cosmetics, dry cleaning, and other items you purchase for yourself. Shift spending in this area to reducing your credit card debt.

Keep examining your year-end summary to find ways to shift spending to reducing credit card debt. You may find you spend a lot of money on frivolous items for your pets or kids. Shift spending in this area to reducing your credit card debt.

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Use your credit card points for free gift cards to your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or shopping venue. It’s a great way to ease the pain of spending less money.[/styled_box]

 

  1. In lieu of gifts ask for money to reduce credit card debt.

Let your loved ones know you want to get your finances under control. Ask them to give you money instead of gifts for special occasions.

If you think you’d be tempted to spend the money they give you, then ask them to make a payment directly to your credit card company.

 

  1. Find more income.

If you have time, find a part-time job. It’s sacrificing your free time but it’s a way for you to reduce your credit card debt.

Find something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy being with kids, try tutoring or even babysitting for close friends and family.

If you enjoy people, Uber and Lyft make it easy to generate additional income setting your own schedule.

If you enjoy pets, offer to pet sit or walk dogs. Start with offering this service to neighbors so you’re not running all over town.

Don’t overthink it. Just get out there and find a way to generate more income.

 

Reducing credit card debt is an easy way to begin getting your personal finances in order. There are many other things you probably need to do with your money such as build an emergency reserve, save for retirement, or pay off student loans. But for now, focus on one thing – reducing your credit card debt.

As you become more confident with your actions, then start addressing the other items. Many people put off getting their finances in order because they become overwhelmed with the list of to do’s. Keep your list simple and focus on one objective. In a few months or even next year, you can tackle another area in your personal finances.

Stay motivated by being creative. If visual reminders motivate you, write down how much you’ve paid off on a chalkboard. Or create a measuring stick with your credit card debt at the top. Fill in the measuring stick as you pay off more debt — similar to tracking fundraising goals.

Make 2017 a banner year by taking control of your finances. If you need help, check out our Spending Plan service. We’ll develop a spending plan (a.k.a., budget) for you as well as include additional saving strategies.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy, and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”