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Pay Off Credit Card 2013If you are like most Americans you have several credit cards haunting your wallet and all of them have a balance. Like many of your fellow capitalists, you have resolved to pay off some of that debt and keep the cards away from the stores. While making that resolution is great, you need to plan out a strategy or you will find yourself making the same promise next year. Here are a few simple steps that you can follow to pay off a single credit card during 2013.

The Plan

Start by gathering up the most recent statements for each of your credit cards. Print them out if they are online. Having something tangible helps. Now it is time to choose which card to pay off. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the balance, minimum payment, and interest rate of each card. Which card you choose to pay off will be a personal decision based on your needs. If you want to achieve a goal quickly, attack the lowest balance, etc.

Once you have chosen the card to pay down, you will need a plan of attack. Look at the monthly minimum payment on that card and determine how much extra do you want to commit to it. One way would be to pay the minimum on time then pay the total interest charge per month during another pay period. Another is to pay the minimum, then send a set amount the next time you get paid, like $25 or $50.

Budgeting

Finding the money to pay down debt can be the largest obstacle you face. Frequently, the money is already in your paycheck, you just need to ferret it out. Start by tracking your expenditures on a daily basis. Do this for a few months, then start looking those records over. You may find that something shouts at you. Trim that area first.

After you have tracked your spending and found glaring ways to cut back, you still may not have enough extra to pay down your debt the way you want. Start looking at your household items. Do you smoke or drink regularly? Cutting back by a pack or a six pack per week can add up. Could you raise the deductible on your auto insurance or eliminate your house phone? Do you have your air turned low and your heat high? You can save $50 a month by changing your thermostat by 4 degrees. There are many ways to scale back your spending once you begin looking.

Any budget that you build must account for the additional payments on your credit card debt. Since it is often easier to make your minimum payment at one time and additional payments later in the month, try signing up for online payment. This will head off the excuse that you do not have the mailing address on hand (used that one a time or two myself) and will give you the ability to monitor your progress at any time.

The Payoff

Most credit card companies have their accounts set up so that it will take approximately three years to pay off your balance if you only make minimum payments. During that time you will most likely pay 20 percent of your highest balance in interest ($5,000 will cost you around $6,300 to pay off with the minimum payment system). Simply paying an additional $50 a month can shave that interest by 30 percent or more. Pay the accrued interest in full each month and the savings is even more.

The key to the whole thing is to commit to paying your debt down, then effectively budgeting for the pay down. Good Luck.

 

About the author: Jerry Coffey

 

Jerry Coffey spent many years in a debt-riddled gray area somewhere between broke and desperately broke. His seemingly endless need for more and more cash led him to payday loans, repossessions, bankruptcy, and depression. After years of the same financial style, he heard a piece of advice that inspired him to find a way to change. The advice: ''The very definition of a fool is someone who continues to do the same things, but expects different results.'' This led him to a much more frugal lifestyle that sees all of his bills paid on time and a growing savings account. Even the seed of a retirement account has begun to sprout.

 

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