You are More than You Owe - Just Remember That!
It's official. Americans are drowning in debt. Not only are we working record hours and decreasing our quality of life just to pay the bills, but we are also racking up more debt even as we've paid off another! How can we stop this vicious cycle or revolving debt, and get our financial lives back in order?
I found these few simple guidelines helpful in my own personal quest to be debt free, and in fact succeeded in paying off all of my outstanding revolving (credit) debt. You may also be able to apply them to your life as well, or at least modify them to help your personal situation.
1.) Limit your trips to restaurants. I hear more people who complain about uncontrollable debt talk about eating out several nights a week. And guess what they're using? Credit cards. Don't dine out unless you're paying with cash or your debit card. Eating out is much more costly than eating at home. After tipping, many times two people can spend $40.00 or more. Imagine putting that same money toward an outstanding debt. Now take it a step further and visualize how it will feel to be debt free, and also guilt free when you do eat out again.
2.) Every time you go grocery shopping, make a list and a pre-determined budget and do not waver from it. Not only can your wallet benefit, but many times your waistline too!
3.) ALWAYS try to pay at least double, if not triple your minimum credit card payments. This not only gets them paid down - and eventually off - faster, but it also reduces the interest on the unpaid balance, which gives you a little more breathing room to pay less in the future, since you're not constantly adding more interest. Then it becomes an exercise in futility.
4.) Go ahead and play the "Credit Card Game". This is where you pay off a higher interest credit card to a zero balance, with a new zero APR card. These types of credit cards usually only offer the zero APR deal as a limited time introductory rate, but you'll still be getting a zero interest rate for those 6-9 months, which gives you more time to "really" catch up on your payments and pay a little more, when there will be nothing else tacked on, and you can truly pay your balances down to manageable amounts.
Two things to note when playing the "Credit Card Game":
a.) Make sure you will get the going prime rate when the intro period is up.
b.) Do not cancel your old card. Just keep it at a zero balance. Experts say it is better for your credit score if you do not cancel old credit cards.
5.) Start a side business. I would say get a second job, but historically people who have two jobs do not win in the end as far as taxes go. If you have a side business doing something that you enjoy, not only are you getting a second income, you are also getting tax deductions. This is a good rule of thumb, but as with everything else in life, it does not apply to every situation. There are tons of businesses that cost virtually nothing to start up, and it can be a very gratifying experience.
Visit Spoozer Men's Magazine: Cars, Music, Technology and Humor Mag for great leisure reading and the latest scoop on cars, music, technology and even beer. Danna Schneider is the founder of Prime Rate Credit: Daily Weblog on Credit Management.