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Do you feel swamped with debt?
One day you get the courage to look at your entire financial picture and you realize you are in debt?
Specifically, credit card debt.
How did it happen?
How did you get here?
What can you do to eliminate the credit card debt fast?
Don’t worry, you are not alone.
Thousands of people suffer from credit card debt every year.
It’s a combination of poor choices with lifestyle, erratic spending, and unfortunately, living off credit cards, for those in financial distress.
Regardless of how you accumulated credit card debt, we’re going to show you in this post 10 easy ways to crush credit card debt.
Keep reading to learn about these actionable tips to help you wipe out your debt.
Easy Ways to Crush Credit Card Debt That Work
Credit card debt sucks. You have these revolving accounts with high balances, higher interest rates and you feel like you’re underwater.
Check out this combination of money-saving and money-making strategies to eliminate that debt fast.
Have you ever read those stories about paying off $50,000 of debt in 6 months? Or eliminating $20,000 worth of debt in a year?
How do those people do it?
They change their lifestyle and adopt some of these strategies. Take a look!
1. Change Your Lifestyle
You might be accustomed to a certain lifestyle by now. Maybe you used credit cards to help you afford your current way of living.
This has got to change.
Whether you used credit cards or loans to support your lifestyle or not, making some changes to your way of living is going to be the key to shrinking your debt fast!
Here are some ideas:
- Avoid expensive outings
- Limit shopping
- Use coupons
- Change your spending habits
These changes are going to be felt. They might take some getting used to but keep the goal in sight and you’ll be fine.
2. Negotiate with The Credit Card Companies
Speak to the credit card companies and negotiate a lower interest rate. Ask about repayment plans or income-based payment plans and work to get the interest lowered on all of your cards.
Here’s how you can successfully negotiate credit card debt:
Step 1: Have an understanding of your total debt load
This means know how much you owe. Go through all your statements and check online to determine how much you actually owe.
Step 2: Look at your options
- Lump-sum settlement
- Workout agreement
- Hardship plan
- Debt settlement
- Debt management
Some options may help you, others may help you and hurt you.
For example, sometimes a lump-sum settlement can lower your balance by 50% or more, but it also means that the creditor may report the payoff “settled” on your credit report, which can damage your credit score.
So, understand the implications of the decision you make here.
Step 3: Understand the risks
Some are financial and credit risks, as described above.
Make sure you agree to a payment plan that you can comfortably pay.
Sometimes not sticking to the terms of making the agreed upon payment on time or in full can result in harsh penalties that can backtrack your success.
Step 4: Call the creditor
With this information in mind, it’s time to call the credit card company to see what options you have.
Step 5: Get it in writing
Lastly, whatever agreement you come to with the credit card company, make sure you get it in writing.
3. Figure Out What Credit Card You’ll Pay Off First
There’s a debt avalanche and debt snowball method available that you can apply to your credit card debt.
One school of thought involves paying off debts in order of smallest balance first.
This is advantageous because you’ll be paying off entire credit cards faster, giving you an ego boost and motivation to keep going.
The second approach involves paying off debt in order of highest interest rate.
This makes sense because you are saving the most money on interest this way, paying off high interest debt first.
Whichever route you choose, both are good options. Make a plan and set it in motion.
You can also look at debt consolidation.
The way debt consolidation works is, your credit card debts will be combined in a lump sum on one account, either a loan or a credit card, for the purpose of saving money on interest and fast debt pay off.
For example, if you had 5 credit cards, with a total balance of $20,000 and interest rates ranging for 10% to 23%, you could consolidate your debt and refinance into a debt consolidation loan at 6%.
That means each individual credit card would be paid off and the balance rolled onto the debt consolidation loan, at the lower interest rate. This is an alternative to a balance transfer but the benefit of this is, the term is permanent.
With a balance transfer, you will usually have a promotional interest rate and term, like 0% for 12 months, then after the promo period expires, the rate increases to the regular card interest rate.
With a debt consolidation, the term is typically fixed, like 3 years at 6%, for example.
4. Pay More Every Month
If you are in a position to make double payments or pay more toward your credit cards monthly, do it!
When I was a freshman in college, I transferred from a community college to a university several hours away.
The six months prior to transfer, I moved back in with my parents and saved money, while making double and triple payments toward my car loan so I could lower the balance as much as I could to pay off the debt faster.
If finances are not a restriction, make extra payments.
5. Stop Using Your Cards
You are really going backwards if your goal is to crush card debt but you are still using the cards!
Stop using them! It’s the fastest, most effective way to reduce your credit card debt.
6. Get Organized
Track your pay down plan. Make an easy spreadsheet listing all your credit cards, amounts owed, payments, interest rate and more.
Then, update it monthly as payments are made and your balance is shrinking.
It’s very effective to have a visual of your debt plan that you can check in on as often as you’d like. It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable.
7. Do A Balance Transfer
Balance transfers are an appealing way to instantly lower your credit card debt interest rate.
If you have good credit and you can get a low interest or zero interest balance transfer offer, take advantage!
Many balance transfer offers are for longer periods of time like 12-18 months. You’ll have that much time to pay off your debt at the low interest rate.
Be aware, there may be a balance transfer fee, as a flat percentage of your balance transferred, like 3 percent, for example.
Make sure the fee makes sense by weighing the fee against your savings. If it does make sense, consider pursuing the balance transfer.
8. Don’t Close Your Card
Yes, you want to avoid using the card but do not close it!
Closing a card can actually negatively impact your credit score. That’s because the age of your revolving debt helps contribute to your credit rating.
Think about if you had a credit card for ten years.
Suddenly closing the card removes that aged account from your credit. Not only that, but your credit score is also measured partly with your credit utilization ratio.
This is the amount of credit used against the amount of your available credit so, closing a card lowers the amount of available credit you have, which will increase your credit utilization ratio which is not what you want.
You can read more about credit utilization and how it impacts you, here.
9. Lower Your Household Expenses
This directly impacts the amount of disposable income you have and the more disposable income available, the more you have available to pay toward your credit card debt.
Here are some ways to lower your household bills:
- Turn off appliances when not in use
- Time showers and water use
- Wash clothes in cold water
- Turn down the thermostat at night only
- Call your utility company to negotiate a lower rate
- Food shop less (for more food..more on this down below)
- Turn off lights when you leave a room
Turning Off/Unplugging Appliances
Appliances use energy when not in use so it’s important to unplug certain appliances because when you do, you reduce energy consumption, which lowers your energy bill. Here are some appliances to consider:
- Desktop computers
- DVD Players
Timing Water Use
There are tons of ways to save money on water, from timing showers and timing teeth brushing to fixing leaky faucets and toilets, and more.
First, in the bathroom, save on water usage doing these things:
- Don’t run the water when teeth brushing or shaving
- Embrace showers instead of baths, that take more water
- Time showers
Save water in the kitchen here:
- Fix leaky faucets
- Plug up the kitchen sink when hand washing dishes
- Scrape the food off your dirty plate instead of rinsing it off
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator instead of running frozen foods under hot water
- Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge instead of running the faucet waiting for the water to turn cold, every time you want a drink of water
Save water in general, with these tips:
- Fix leaky or running toilets
- Wash only full loads of laundry
Washing Clothes in Cold Water
Less energy is used when you wash in cold water, since the water doesn’t need to be heated for the wash. Here are 5 more amazing benefits of washing cold:
- Cold water is friendly to many fabric types (including delicates)
- Cold water is good for stain removal
- Cold water is good for washing dark colors
- Cold water helps clothes last longer, aiding in less fading and shrinkage
- Cold water reduces wrinkles
Turn on the A/C at Night Only
This is a practice many people put into play to save money on the electric bill. It makes sense too, if you think about it.
During the day, most people are away from the home, at work. During that time, set the thermostat to a warmer temperature.
Then, when you get home, lower the thermostat to enjoy a cooler setting when you’re there and can enjoy it.
My sister did this for years and I never truly understood why. I just figured she liked a warmer temperature.
While at work, she’d set her apartment to 78 degrees. Being self employed myself, sometimes I’d venture to her place during the day to work in a new setting.
Her place was always a lot warmer than I enjoyed but, when she got home, she lowered the temperature, and living this way helped her enjoy a low electricity bill.
It really works.
Negotiate a Lower Rate on Utilities
Don’t be afraid to call your utility company to get a lower rate.
You could secure an affinity discount for:
- Being military
- AAA member
- Part of other membership clubs or employer discount
You can also be able to take advantage of promotional deals that help lower your bill. This extends to electricity, gas, trash, water, phone, cable, and internet.
For years, when I had cable, I’d call my cable company to get a discount.
The discount would last around 6 months and then expire. When it did, I’d call again to get another deal.
I did this about twice a year for years with a 100% success rate.
It costs companies more money to gain a new customer than it does to retain one so you’ll find that your creditors can be flexible if you’re an existing customer. Give it a try.
Food Shop Less
Food shop less for more food! Let me explain.
Going food shopping less means you’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store but, the trips you do make will be worth it! You’ll be buying more groceries on each trip.
Fewer grocery trips has a ton of benefits:
- Save money on gas
- Reduce the number of times for potential overspending
- Gain more of your personal time
- Save money on groceries
First, you save on fuel costs. Driving to the grocery store once a month uses less gas than driving to the store 2 or more times per month. Makes sense.
Next, you lower the number of opportunities you have to overspend.
This was a big struggle of mine.
I used to make all the mistakes when I’d go grocery shopping.
I went shopping on an empty stomach, without a list, wasting a lot of time and money.
Now, I’m much better with my grocery trips and one of my success tips is going shopping less for more food.
We are not perfect and overspending can happen but it’s less likely to happen to less you visit the grocery store to shop.
Third, you gain more time! A grocery trip for our household takes about an hour.
So, a once a month trip is an hour a month compared to weekly shopping trips, which take 4 hours for the month.
For us, whether we do a big food shop or smaller food shops more frequently, it still takes that hour so you save a ton of time but reducing the number of your shopping trips.
Lastly, food shopping less for more food saves you a ton of money.
Here’s how it works:
First, if you make many trips compared to less trips to the store, you usually end up forgetting one or two items, maybe more. So that means, you’ll be making in between trips to the store.
This was a challenge for me for years.
I’d always forget a few items so then, to avoid a big grocery store trip, I’d head to a smaller store nearby, usually a Dollar General or Walmart Neighborhood Center and this is what happened: I always overbought!
Every time. The $10 in items I needed, turned into $40. It was always $30 to $40 every single time.
So, I ended up spending a lot more on groceries throughout the month.
Going to the store once a month for more food and with a list lowers the likelihood of making in between trips that can occur if you forget items or run out of food.
Turn Off the Lights
According to Energy.gov, you want to consider turning off the lights, in addition to the types of light bulbs and electricity you use.
Incandescent and halogen lights should be turned off when leaving a room.
CFL lighting is actually pretty efficient and should be turned off if you’re leaving a room for 15 minutes or longer.
To read more about energy savings and the cost effectiveness of turning off the lights, check out the full article on when to turn off your lights.
10. Crush Credit Card Debt By Getting a Side Hustle
A great way to help pay down your debt faster is to increase your income. You can do that with a side hustle.
A side hustle is a part-time gig you do for extra money.
There are a ton of side hustles available, especially today, with the increase in work from home and gig work jobs. Start by looking at your interests. Ask yourself these questions?
- Do you want structure or a flexible job?
- Do you want to work from home?
- Are you looking for set pay or an on-demand payment structure that you have some control over?
- What kind of second job would you enjoy doing?
Check out these resources for more inspiration:
- 16 Easy to Start Side Hustles for Introverts
- 10 Side Hustles to Make You Money Fast
- 13 Easy Side Hustles I Do To Make An Extra $300+/Month in Extra Cash
- 12 Unique Side Hustle Ideas You Haven’t Seen Before
11. Start a Business
Starting a business is a neat way to earn extra money that’s both rewarding and lucrative.
Figure out where your interests lie and create a business that solves a need in the community. This can be a product-based or service-based business. A new business may require some startup capital so keep this in mind.
It’s a fun project that can have measurable reward (plus, financial benefit) and, if you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, you can fulfill that dream!
Recommended reading: 24 Best Businesses to Start in a Small Town
12. Ask for Overtime at Work
This is probably the easiest and fastest way to increase your income. Ask your employer for overtime. You can likely start overtime work the same week and begin to see the increase in pay in your next paycheck.
You can also consider getting a secondary job at your workplace, for added income, like working a special project or picking up a second unrelated position.
13. Work an After-Work Gig
Get a gig after your 9 to 5 job.
When I was working my first job as a teen, I worked at a pizza restaurant and 90% of the delivery drivers worked their delivery job as a second job. I happened to live in a military town so most of our drivers were members of the armed forces, who used their car to deliver pizzas in the evening.
They loved the job because they worked nights, from the comfort of their car. They got to wear a t-shirt and shorts most of the time as their work uniform and the tips, which always kept cash in their pocket.
Here are some after-work gigs to take a look at:
This can be delivering people, food, or stuff. You’ll be picking up and delivering using your car. People that love this job enjoy the flexibility, casual dress, the ability to work hours according to their schedule, weekly pay, on-demand work and on-demand pay and more perks.
- Uber (read our full review)
- Lyft (check out the driver review)
- GrubHub (learn how you can earn $10+ per hour as a delivery driver)
- UberEATS (work at around $11/hour delivering food)
- Postmates (read the driver review)
These jobs are great for those who love to work in front of a computer. You don’t have to be tech savvy or a strong typist but you should have basic computer skills. Take a look.
- Survey Taking (25 Survey Sites to Earn $600+ Per Month)
- Blogging (Check out this detailed free guide to starting a blog for extra money)
- Online Tutoring (12 online tutoring jobs to check out)
- Teach English to Chinese students online (Learn about these 10 jobs that pay you to teach English online)
Recommended reading: 35 work from home gigs that pay weekly or daily
14. Improve Your Financial Habits
The first step to starting a debt payoff plan is to fix your financial habits. This means paying more attention to your financial picture, being more aware of your spending habits, cutting back, and more.
Here are some additional ways you can help improve your financial habits:
- Start budgeting
- Save money on everyday essentials
- Track your spending (Try the Mint app and read our full review)
- Coupon (15 couponing tips for beginners that will save you money)
- Cut back on expensive lifestyle habits (like eating out at lunch, excessive spending on coffee at Starbucks, weekend shopping trips, etc.)
Sit back and really figure out your wants versus your needs. Make some changes and stick to them.
15. Make a Drastic Lifestyle Change
If you are looking to make more of an extreme lifestyle change, consider overhauling your life in a big way in an effort to save money, which can be thrown toward your credit card debt.
- Get roommates (or downsize your home)
- Move in with your parents
- Abandon your car (or downsize)
- Becoming a minimalist (10 easy steps to shop like a minimalist)
- Give up your social life
- Use all your free time toward making money
- Become debt-obsessed and make it your mission
These are some pretty extreme changes but if you really want to crush credit card debt fast then, these changes will help you do that!
We hope you found these credit card debt crushing strategies useful.
How are you paying off your credit card debt? What tips do you have?
Share with us by commenting down below. We’d love to hear from you.