I made a lot of confessions on this blog and here’s another one: I used to swim in credit card debt years ago.
It wasn’t that big since I paid for at least more than minimum every month before the due date. Still, whatever angle you look at, it is still DEBT. Thankfully, for my first credit card, my dad paid for the remaining balance while the second one was paid off by my husband. I didn’t have any source of income at that time so they decided to help me pay off my dues.
In other words, they both gave me a clean slate, hoping that I will learn my lesson and start using credit cards wisely – and I did. I am now an advocate of NO CREDIT CARD policy UNLESS needed because let’s face it, credit card is helpful in emergency (the real ones) situations where cash is not easily accessible. Still, I made sure I use my plastic card wisely since I don’t want to incur debt I can’t even afford to pay.
I’m sure most of us got stuck in a similar situation at one point. After all, isn’t it convenient to have a shiny card on hand? The question now is how do you get out of it? Here are my five tips to help you get out of credit card debt – and how to stop yourself from incurring them again.
Tip No. 1: Admit and accept that you have debt.
It sounds simple but trust me, this is, perhaps, the hardest thing to do. I was in denial at first, refusing to accept the fact that I have unpaid balance that incur interest every month. I avoid the fact that there are envelopes waiting for me in the counter and just put it inside my bag because of fear of opening them.
Therefore, the first step you must take is to acknowledge, admit, and accept the fact that your credit card bill/s need your attention. It’s not the end of the world. There are various ways to help you get out of the debt pool (and the Negative Data Bank!), which you will learn more about later.
Tip No. 2: Forget about savings – for now!
I received a book from an officemate years ago entitled, 12 Steps to Build Wealth on any Income.” In one of the sections that talked about debts, the author said that to help you pay off, you should reduce savings and allot more for dues to be able to pay for the existing debts – which, for me, is a decent point.
Think about this: adding a big chunk of your hard-earned money to your savings account is fine. On the other hand, your credit card bills are piling up because you only pay for the minimum (or a little above it) every month.
To help you pay off, reduce the amount for your savings temporarily and pay a bigger amount for your credit card bill to minimize the outstanding balance. Eventually, you will be able to see a smaller amount in your bill and go back to saving.
Tip No. 3: Pay one credit card at a time.
Who doesn’t want to sleep soundly at night without worrying about any debts? The idea might be tempting but the best way to go about it is to pay one credit card at a time. This means you have to prioritize which among the credit cards you want to pay off first while continuously paying (a little above) minimum amount due for the others. You can consider any of the following factors:
- Lowest balance due
- Highest interest rate
- Highest balance due
Paying any of the three first depends on your preference and whichever works for you. If you want to be able to save more from interest, then pay off your card with the highest interest rate first since you can save more in the long run. At the same time, you could use the extra funds for payment to other credit cards. Otherwise, it’s up to you if you want to pay the one with the lowest balance first so you could eliminate one card already or the one with the highest balance.
Tip No. 4: Keep your partner involved.
This was one of my mistakes when handling m credit card bill. I was fixated on doing everything on my own and refuse to ask help from others. I used up my savings and allowances from my parents to be able to pay for my bills because I don’t want my husband to know that I have debt. Since I am no longer working (I haven’t discovered online job yet), I don’t even know where to get funds to pay off my bills.
Whatever problems you have, always keep your partner involved, especially when money is on the hot seat. Keeping secrets and hiding bills won’t do you any good. It won’t even help you get out of the situation. Let your partner know your financial standing so you could discuss and make the necessary adjustments to help you get out of debt and in the bank’s watch list.
If you plan to apply for a loan, regardless of the nature, the banks will check your credit standing too. This means they will consider your how you paid your credit card/s and whether you pay in time.
Tip No. 5: Watch your spending.
Here comes the challenging part: paying off your credit card while minimizing your spending.
By this time, you established how much is your outstanding balance and what you need to pay first. You have a plan and slowly executing it. The next and most important thing you have to do is to watch your spending. The big “Sale” sign may be tempting but if you want to pay more on your bills to minimize the outstanding balance, then learn to say no. Spend on the basic necessities and if your child doesn’t need that new shoes yet, then don’t buy. Impose discipline and remind yourself that your credit card bill needs your attention and money too.
Just in case you plan to use your credit card, make sure to pay the amount in FULL come billing time. This way, you won’t incur interest and minimize the possibility of accumulating unpaid purchases.
Getting out of credit card debt may be tricky. I know because I’ve been there. Just take one credit card at a time and be wise with your spending. You’ll get out of it even before you notice.
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Ayi is a stay-at-home mom of two. When her kids are in their best state, she keeps up with chores, work, and ensuring that her sanity is intact. Join her as she navigates through this rollercoaster ride called motherhood.
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I’m always keeping my partner involved. Mahirap na baka it will also sost your marriage more than your wallet. And yes, pay one card at a time =)
I’ve been in the same situation before. Now i learned my lesson 🙂 And it’s true, keeping your partner involve is necessary, it will also keep everything light and easy 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!
Helpful tips. In our household, we Use our credit card for grocery only and when billing arrives we pay everything. That way, we don’t have utang plus we got something pa from the credit card company because of their promos.
I actually use credit card to accumulate points lang to pay off the annual fee. Sayang din kasi :))
Ihihi. Same here for the points. But you can always call them to waive the annual fee. I always do that.
Sigh, credit card debt is something that took me a while to get past, as well. Now I’m super careful na. As much as possible, I pay in full. And I always think twice na before I swipe.
This was a good read before I get into getting ANY CC! lol
Same here, and I’m learning and using it wisely now. I use it for plane tickets and big purchases like more than P10k. Lower purchases, I pay cash. Good tips, thanks!
Thanks for sharing this. I super know how it feels. I should start being wiser in using my CC 🙂 Hihi
I just finished reading an old book Shopaholic takes Manhattan and your post is really similar to Bex’s story. I have a problem with overspending too but I’m trying my best here to save money as much as I can. As of now, I don’t have any debt, Phew!
I actually don’t have a credit card but these days we need to be wise in our spending whether we own one or not.
Great tips! I have stayed without a cc ever since my world began. We have a “if we can’t buy it in cash, it’s not for us”. Works well for us. Will share this to cc holder friends. 🙂
This is great tips and a big help. There’s a lot of people encouraging me to try CC but still right now d ako nag attempt na mag try.
Naku, I experienced the same before. I have work and I do shopping everytime I go to the mall knowing I can pay on the salary day. Hanggang sa magpatong patong na. Since I met my hubby few year ago, I learned from him how to refrain in using my credit card because we always use cash when we are together. Luckily, I was able to finish my debt last year before I leave my work and to become a full time mommy. It is such a wonderful feeling na debt-free ka hehehe.
It always starts with acceptance di ba? If you keep denying that you need to pay, hindi mo magagawa ung mga susunod na steps.
Good thing I don’t have one. Hehe! My husband is the one using CC, I even asked him to let go of his other cc. We just have agreed to have one for us, which is a good thing because we are enjoying on its points 🙂
Credit cards can easily turn to be a quicksand lalo na kapag newbie user ka. Para ka kasing naguuwi ng libre and of course you are not, until wala ng natitira kakabayad.
I agree. It is so easy to spend, especially if alam mo may darating na money anytime within the month. I guess it also boils down to discipline 🙂
I’ve had only 1 credit card and I maxed out my card in less than a month! I was so shocked that I coordinated with the bank paid off my debt and never had a credit since. These are excellent tips.
Your tips are very helpful. It is true that the first step is accepting that you have debt.
Ugh, I hate that we’re paying off our credit card debt. Sobrang nakakastress. We’ve got a few months to go but still! Grabe how crippling it can be. There are so many things that matter that we cannot do because of the amount we have to allot for it. Nakakaloka!
I was able to acquire credit card debt when I was single too. My parents paid it off. I learned my lesson!
I used to have a credit card but cut it after realizing it just encouraged me to spend on things I don’t really need. Thanks for sharing!
thank you for posting this. I just got a visa card for myself recently. Scared kc ako. But sometimes, kelangan din talaga for online transactions 🙁
I also learned my lesson in a hard way because of credit card, now I am paying cash na lang