Summertime and the living is easy. With the season’s sunshine and warmer temperatures, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is only five months away. And unfortunately for most of us, holiday cheer is hardly cheap. This means now is the time to start thinking about paying down some of that credit card debt. By being prepared and planning ahead, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headache down the road.
Schedule some time to sit down and review all outstanding credit card debt. (Be sure to include your spouse, child or anyone else with whom you may have a joint card.) Have a copy of the most recent statement or online credentials handy. Locate each card’s outstanding balance, interest rate and any applicable monthly or annual fees.
Prioritizing may be the most important step of the repayment process. Remember, all credit cards are not equal. Spending extra cash on paying down the wrong card could end up costing you thousands. Start by paying off the card with the highest rate, then the next highest, and so on – this will save you the most money in the long run.
Start Setting Money Aside
Determine how much money you can realistically afford to spend every month on credit card debt repayment. If figuring out a monthly figure seems too daunting, start with a week’s amount and multiple that figure by four. For example skipping that everyday latte and your weekly dining out habit would save $120 a month! If your debt is more serious, consider going without cable or start taking the bus or carpooling to work. Cutting out these luxuries could save you several hundred dollars every month.
After determining how much you can save per month, start putting the extra cash towards that credit card balance. Helpful hint: pay down your credit card balance on payday. If your paycheck’s deposited on the last day of every month, plan on transferring your monthly amount directly to that credit card. You’ll be helping to pay down that debt before you even realize part of the paycheck’s missing!
We’ve got a tool to help!
Making decisions about debt repayment can be tricky. Washington Federal’s exclusive personal money management tool, snap!, can help you pay off that extra debt. With snap!, you can view all of your accounts, regardless of the financial institution they’re with, from one online banking login. Snap!’s debt tool can show you which credit card is best to pay down first, how much of an impact additional payments will make on your card’s balance and will even create charts and graphs to visually display the repayment process. The debt feature can also be used for other types of loan repayment, including student or car loans or a mortgage. Snap! is free and easy to use. Ready to get started? Visit us online to find out how you can register for snap! (Coming soon – iPhone & iPad apps!)
Be Patient and Realistic
The monthly figure you calculated might seem a little small compared to your overall credit card debt. Don’t get discouraged! There are still five months left until the big day. Paying off debt takes time and discipline. To completely rid yourself of credit card debt, you’ll likely need to make some significant changes to your spending habits.
At Washington Federal, we know our clients’ credit card needs are unique and we’re proud to offer a variety of card options to match those. Our card offerings range from a college rewards card to our bonus rewards plus card. Contact us today for more info.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next blog post, “Easy Ways to Save $100 a Month.” We’ll offer some practical advice about how to cut back on your overall spending.