Whether you are facing the prospect of bankruptcy or you have recently filed, it is likely that credit card debt plays a large part in your financial future. For many, credit cards represent a safety blanket: a money reserve to be used for emergencies. Unfortunately, when emergency debts begin to pile up, they can make it difficult to recover.
Credit card spending can be a slippery slope for many Americans. People can quickly lose sight of what constitutes disposable income when also looking at their available balance. Fortunately, there are some tips that can come in handy when fighting to control your credit card debt, including:
- Build a budget: The best way to get a handle on debt is to truly understand your bills. Many people find it helpful to visualize the amount of money coming in versus the amount of money going out in a paycheck or monthly budget. By comparing income to spending, it gives you a better sense of disposable income and discretionary spending.
- Pay more than the minimum: Credit card companies give you a minimum payment on your monthly bill as a suggestion or guideline. Debtors don’t always realize, though, that by only paying the minimum you will eventually pay a larger amount of money based on how your interest rate accrues. It is better to pay at least twice the minimum payment amount.
- Pay your bills on time: While this might be common sense, it goes much deeper than simply paying a late fee every time you miss a payment. When you reach the point of having to willfully sacrifice one debt to pay another, you are facing financial peril. If you find yourself intentionally missing a credit card payment to have enough money to pay a utility bill, it’s time to consider your options.
- Identify the right debt strategy for you: There are several strategies in place to help with credit card debt. From the snowball method (paying off the smallest debt and snowballing the payment into the next smallest debt, and so on) to the avalanche method (paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first to save money on additional fees), you should come up with a strategy and stick to it.
- Build a savings in case of emergency: Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and are forced to face financial difficulties at every turn. It might be helpful to focus on building a savings equal to a month’s income to help with financial emergencies. Having a savings account helps you avoid using credit cards for emergencies – which would only add new stress to your financial situation.
While these tips might seem like common sense, these methods of debt control can quickly get lost in the waves of stress that represent financial turmoil. If you are fighting to dig your way out of debt and none of these methods seem to be working, it might be wise to explore the fresh start that bankruptcy provides. Additionally, if you have filed for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, these tips might help you prevent future monetary troubles.