6 Simple Ways to Lower Your Credit Card Debt
6 Simple Ways to Lower Your Credit Card Debts
Jay Gies writes about managing money, budgeting, and finding ways to cut down expenses and credit card debt. Benjamin Franklin was famous for a great many things. One of the less frequently remembered is his fierce opposition to personal debt, which he believed represented a form of bondage. Today, the average American household just may understand his feelings. It’s far too easy to fall into credit card debt, and a lot harder to climb out of it – but, by no means is it impossible. Take up Mr. Franklin’s cause, and resolve to fight for your own independence today – from credit card debt.
1. Slash Personal Expenses Use convenience stores for gasoline only, and forget about newspapers, lottery tickets, snacks, and other impulse purchases. Commit to staying with your current e-reader, mobile device, laptop computer, and flat-screen TV until you’re completely debt free. Cross off clothing stores from the list, and cut your trips to restaurants in half, at the very least.
2. Cut Grocery Bills Get multiple copies of the Sunday paper and start clipping coupons. Then, put your smartphone to work and download apps like Yowza and Grocery IQ. However, don’t necessarily use every coupon you find – limit them to foods your household regularly consumes. Create a shopping list before you leave the house and stick to it. Stock up on your favorite foods when they’re on sale and take advantage of your grocer’s loyalty program if one is available.
3. Cut the Cable Cord Think you can’t get by without cable TV? Think again. Netflix and Hulu Plus offer tons of movies and TV shows at a significant discount to traditional cable and satellite packages – each costs $8 per month. Also, consider replacing your TV time with other activities, such as reading books or exercising. The potential savings is tremendous.
4. Drop Home Telephone Service Still have a home telephone? If you need a backup to your smartphone, consider MagicJack Plus instead. It’s a device you can buy for around $50 that plugs into your computer and acts as a landline telephone. The first six months of service are free; after that it’s only $29.95 per year. Match that up against your current landline and the savings are more than apparent.
5. Get An In-Home Energy Audit I got an email a while back from my provider offering an in-home energy audit. I didn’t really know what it was, but I decided to take the bait. A rep came to my home, free of charge, inspected it inside and out, and provided me with a written report of all the ways I could save on energy. I put many of the tips in place without spending a ton of cash, and my bills instantly went down by roughly 30%. Check to see if your company offers these audits, and get one on the books immediately.
6. Brown-Bag It to Work Eating lunch at restaurants on your work break adds up in a hurry. Even if you only spend $8 per meal, that’s roughly $200 each year. Wrap up last night’s leftovers in a flour tortilla, throw together some lunch meat sandwiches, or assemble a chef’s salad with some healthy dressing. You can save a ton of money with brown bag lunch ideas, all of which can be devoted to your credit card debts.
Once all of these tactics are in place, get yourself on a personal budget. Use Microsoft Excel, or a good old pen and paper to list out your expenses and income. Keep making cuts until you have a monthly surplus, and then send that amount in to your creditors. Watch your balances dry up, and celebrate when you’re debt-free. Achieving that independence is a major milestone – make sure you remember the struggles you faced getting there, so you don’t repeat the mistakes that landed you in debt in the first place.
What other ways do you know of to lower credit card debt?