If you have credit card debt, it can truly feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall. There is no feeling quite like the worry created when the bills fall through your door. The start of 2013 is now fully upon us and now is the best time to start thinking about your debts and formulating a plan that will help you to take back control.
The first step, before you start working off these debts is to open up about how much you owe. Collect all your cards and look at your minimum payments, how much credit you have left and what your total repayment value is. This way you can be 100% sure what exactly you owe and how long it will take you to pay off these debts.
1. Balance transfers to consolidate your card debts
0% balance transfer credit cards are always advertised heavily at this time of year, and are a great approach for those of us with low debt amounts. If you are struggling with paying the minimum at the moment, then this may be the answer for you. Firstly look for a card that offers a 12 months balance transfer, there are many that only offer 6 - 9 months, which is not going to help if your credit exceeds R25,000.
Once you have transferred your balance then you can be assured that you are only paying what you owe. If you increase your payments and stick within the 12 months then you will be debt free in no time.
2. Budget and plan to pay more than the minimum
Paying the minimum you owe each month, seems simple in theory, but in the long run you will be paying most of your money towards interest rather than clearing your debt. Making larger payments each month is a great way to reduce your credit card debt, but can be difficult if you are working on a budget.
To work towards upping the value of your payments you may need to revise your current budget, which can mean making small changes to your spending. Look at the small things you buy regularly, such as that Latte on the way to work - that 8 rand everyday can soon add up to a larger monthly payment towards your card debts.
3. Categorise your card debts
This is specifically for those of us with multiple credit cards. Remember at the start when I mentioned how we should all know 100% what we owe, this is exactly why; if you don't know what you owe then it will be difficult to see clearly what categories of debts we have!
Work your way through your cards. Place those with small manageable amounts on one side, with larger valued cards on the other. Any debts that can be written off straight away, do so, the sooner these are paid the better. For the larger values that are left, either consolidate these cards or look at exactly what you can pay to get these closed efficiently.
4. Debt Restructuring
This is the final step to take if all else fails. Debt restructuring is simply asking your lenders to re-negotiate your current interest rates as you can't make the payments they are requesting. A lot of people don't believe this will work for them, but remember the lenders want their money back just as much as you want to be debt free, so by explaining your situation they are likely to want to help.
Whichever plan of attack you decide upon, you need to remember why you want to be debt free whether it's to help you save for the future, or so that you can get a good night's sleep; making small changes now will help towards this in the long run.