Paying off credit cards after the fun is over

That dreaded statement has arrived, but don’t just hide it away or pay the minimum off your credit card debt.

Most credit cards ask you to pay around 2% of the balance each month. With interest rates at around 15% pa, sometimes more, most of your payment will pay interest on your purchase, and only a small part will be allocated to repay your actual debt. So it could take you years to get rid of the debt if you only pay the minimum! Here are a few tips to get rid of debt faster:

Hide it before you spend it

Using online banking, you can organise an automatic transaction to occur each time you get paid, taking money from your everyday savings account and paying off the credit card before you have the chance to spend it.

Save the little bits. No one likes to carry around a lot of small change. At the end of each day, put all your 50c pieces or gold coins into a savings jar — preferably one you can’t open, like a piggy bank. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up and when it’s full, you can use the money you’ve saved to repay an extra chunk off the debt.

Work more

Take on a part time job, work more hours or overtime and allocate all the extra money to get rid of debts.

Sell something

Many of us have things we really no longer need: an old record collection, a bicycle we never ride, an unused musical instrument, and so on. Use online trading sites like eBay to make some extra cash. You know what they say: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Use windfalls

Every now and then a chunk of money comes your way: back-pay, a bonus or a tax refund. It’s all right to give yourself a treat but use some of it to pay off the debt.

Spend less

Careful spending doesn’t need to impact on your lifestyle. Try these ideas:

  • Check supermarket catalogues and buy brands on special.
  • Cook at home rather than buying take away.
  • Lay-by birthday and Christmas gifts during the store sales.
  • Check out upmarket clothes recycling stores; they often have designer clothes at bargain prices.

Ask for help

If all else fails, talk to your credit card institution about other ways to pay off the debt, such as credit card debt consolidation. Remember, your bank or financial institution will want to be re-paid, so they may be prepared to make special arrangements for you.

A disciplined approach like this will work. And remember, it doesn’t have to squash your lifestyle into boredom.

Think creatively about having fun and enjoying life without spending a fortune — and don’t forget to celebrate when the debt is gone.