(Update to original post from January 10, 2017)

With interest rates rising, it’s time to take your credit card debt seriously. Follow these tips to pay off your debt.

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


Simplify

If you have multiple credit cards, simplify by consolidating to one credit card.

Identify which credit card has the lowest interest rate. Contact that credit card company and ask how you can transfer all your other balances to it.

This credit card becomes your primary card.

If you can’t consolidate your balances, pick one card to pay off first. Ideally, choose the credit card with the highest interest rate and largest balance.

Remember to continue paying the minimum required payment on your other credit cards to avoid adversely impacting your credit score.


Remove Temptation

To remove the temptation of using your credit cards, shred them.

Keep your primary credit card (the one with the lowest interest rate) and a backup (in case of an issue with your primary card).

Put the other cards in a shredder. Display the shreds in a decorative bowl or jar to remind yourself of your goal to repay credit card debt.

If you use mobile apps for your payments, use only your primary credit card and remove the others from your app.

If shopping online is your downfall, unsubscribe from tempting shopping emails.

If you don’t want to unsubscribe, create another email specifically for retail emails. Use a creative email such as “StopWastingMoney@domain.”

Also, turn off push notifications from retail apps on your phone. Or better yet, delete them.

If your social media feed tempts you to spend money, pause your use of social media until you pay off your credit card debt.


Payoff new charges

As you reduce your credit card debt, commit to paying in total any new charges.

It’ll be an endless battle if you continuously add to your credit card debt.

Write this commitment and place it where you will see it regularly.

Another idea is to tape a note on your credit card that reads, “Do not use until credit card debt = $0”


Shift spending to repay debt

Shift spending in certain areas to pay off your credit card debt. Remind yourself it’s only temporary until you get your credit card debt to $0.

The amount of time it’ll take you to pay off your credit card debt depends on how aggressive you want to be with your payments.

With credit card companies sending year-end summaries, it’s easy to identify where you spend the most money. Shift spending in these areas to pay down your credit card debt.

Spending more money than necessary on food is typical, especially if you frequently dine out or pay for delivery.

Another category to explore is how much you spend on personal care items. This category includes shopping, salon, cosmetics, dry cleaning, and other things you purchase for yourself.

You may discover you overspend on frivolous items for your pets or kids.

Keep examining your year-end summary to find ways to shift spending to pay off credit card debt.


Broadcast your goal

Let your loved ones know you want to get your finances under control.

For birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to give you money to reduce your credit card debt.

If you think you’ll be tempted to spend that money on other things, ask them to pay your credit card company directly.


Find a side hustle

Find a side hustle to generate additional income. 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 by setting your own schedule.

If you enjoy pets, offer to pet sit or walk dogs. Start 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.

Remind yourself it’s only temporary.

It’s also a way to resist the urge to spend money by physically being at another job.

If you need to work from home, look for online side hustles BUT be careful of scams!


Stay motivated

Stay motivated by using visual reminders.

Write down how much you’ve paid off on a poster board and hang it where you can see it daily.

Or create a tracking bar showing how much you’ve paid off (similar concept used to track fundraising goals).


Reducing credit card debt is a great start to getting your personal finances in order. Once you have your credit card debt under control, you’ll build confidence to tackle your other financial goals.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, 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 developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. 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.’”