There are a ton of articles online about how to get rid of your credit card debt, yet much of the advice is impractical. My favorite are the ones that just tell you to earn more, as if it were that simple.
Believe me, I’m all for a good side hustle. And I think earning more is a great way to pay off your debt. But if you think that’s the easiest and only way to do it, think again.
As most working people know, it isn’t easy to just start making more money – if it were, we’d all be rich. Asking for a raise is a great idea if if your company is in a position to give you one and if you’ve earned it.
But for most of us, this isn’t the easiest way to go about eliminating debt. Here are 10 sure fire ways to eliminate your credit card debt quickly:
1. Find out where your money is going
First things first, you should go back over the past several months of bank information. This includes spending as well as earning.
For me, this is a one time thing. Take stock of where you stand, then make your next move (like a budget). For you, it might be a more regular thing (like monthly). Do what works best for you.
There are two services I recommend you use to get a landscape of your spending patterns:
If you’re more hands-off and just want something snapped together, use Personal Capital. It has a ton of features I won’t dive into now, but it will give you a quick snapshot of your spending.
If you want more detail and are willing to enter and/or edit your transactions by yourself, definitely use You Need A Budget. It’s reporting is robust and will give you a complete analysis of your spending. It’s just more time consuming than Personal Capital.
Personally, I don’t use You Need A Budget. I’ve tried it and it has way too many features for me to keep track of. But I know a lot of people find it valuable. If you’re interested, here’s an overview they’ve put together:
The goal here is to just get a landscape of where your money went. Take a look at your spending patterns and see where you can start to cut back.
The money you start saving will go right to your debt. One personal example is when I dropped cable last year and saved over $100 a month.
2. Create a spending log
This takes some effort at first, but is one of the most effective ways to rein in spending. If you decide to use Personal Capital, it’ll log your spending for you.
But I’ve found that jotting down your spending, even if if just for a trial period, has awesome effects. It’s trying to lose weight. The experts always say to keep a food log.
Well consider yourself fat with debt. It’s time to lose it.
So grab a [easyazon_link identifier=”B0034KDEMO” locale=”US” tag=”monemoza-20″]handy little notebook[/easyazon_link] and start writing down what you’re spending throughout the day. Then cross-check it with Personal Capital or You Need A Budget later. You might surprise yourself at where your money is going.
3. Stop spending money on one thing
Check your spending logs – what unneccesary spending are you doing? Is it that afternoon coffee? $4 for a coffee may not seem like much but if you do it every working day, that’s $20 a week and $520 a year!
Or maybe you eat lunch out every day. That can’t be less than $5-7 a pop if you’re getting a decent meal. So maybe think about bringing leftovers or a sandwich instead.
4. Quit using credit cards
If you’re working on paying off credit card debt, you have no business using credit cards. I don’t care if you’re getting 6% cash back on groceries, don’t mess with it until you’re debt-free.
Credit cards are powerful, but only if you know how to use them. Take the old-school method and just cut those bad boys up. You can always order new ones when you’ve paid off your debt and are ready to start spending responsibly.
5. Stop spending on one more thing
Challenge yourself. You’ve already cut one thing out completely. Try for something else now.
If you can’t drop it entirely, try to reduce it by 50% instead. So if you’re spending $200 a month on clothes, it may not be workable to cut that out completely. Instead, try only spending $100 on clothes this month.
Use the extra $100 you’ve saved toward credit card debt. Those new jeans can wait until next month.
6. Pay off credit cards one at a time
If you have many cards, figure out which one has the highest interest rate and pay that one off first. I won’t bore you with the math, but this will save you the most money in the long run.
Some of you may also appreciate the snowball method of paying off debt. Psychologically, this works. It just doesn’t make sense mathematically.
I do caution against this strategy, though. Unless you’re the type of person who will get motivation from a small win, like paying off a $200 balance. As always, do what works best for you.
7. Sell junk for cash
It may take some time, but you can sell old clothes on a website like ThredUp. Items that still have some value and don’t cost much to ship would be great to sell on eBay. And you can pretty much sell anything else on Craigslist these days.
We all have crap laying around the house that we don’t need and don’t want. Instead of packing it away in a box, get rid of it and get some money. Then use that money to pay down your credit card balances.
Just recently I found a bunch of crap I didn’t even know I had, and I sold it for some extra money.
When I make extra money, I like to put it directly to work, too. Whether it’s savings or debt, don’t think of this money as ‘extra income’. Put it to work.
8. Find ways to make easy money online
While it may not be a full side hustle, there are sites that will pay you to do easy things, like answer surveys or watch videos.
These two articles give you some great resources for earning easy cash!
You can do these whenever you have a bit of spare time and they will pay you a few extra bucks a month. You won’t get rich, but it will provide some relief toward that credit card debt.
9. Have a reward system
Setting goals is often a huge motivator for people. You can use this here too.
Something simple such as eliminating a card may warrant allowing yourself a guilty pleasure. Perhaps that thing you cut before! Now don’t go crazy with this idea, keep it within reason. The goal is to reward yourself in a small way.
One example is to buy yourself a $5 coffee or take yourself out for a martini after paying off one of your cards. Like weight loss, you can’t completely deprive yourself (or can you?).
10. Use your momentum
As with many things in life, momentum is key. Savers actually enjoy saving – can you imagine?
Keep track of your progress. Visualize your goals by drawing a prosperity picture or try coloring in a big picture of a dog. Whatever works for you to keep up that momentum, do it.
Credit card debt sucks, but it happens. So don’t sit around and ignore it, go do something about it.
Use these 10 ideas as a guide to help you start tackling that nasty credit card debt. Just don’t forget to stop and give yourself credit (pun intended) for paying that shit off.
Here are some other great articles for you to check out as you’re looking to tackle that credit card debt!
Chris is the founder of Money Mozart, a blog about personal finance. He discusses frugality, minimalism, and achieving financial independence by living well below your means. He’s also an avid craft beer lover and an aspiring minimalist.