It’s so easy to get a credit card these days that it’s very likely you have more than one card sitting in your wallet or purse. Although, how high is the priority of paying off the debt on each card to you? It's a great feeling to use your card to get what you want when you want it, but ridding yourself of credit card debt altogether should give you an entirely new level of satisfaction.
You may have a few cards with small balances and a few with large balances, but there is no doubt the biggest problem is tracking what and who you owe money too. Another problem is that they will all have different rates of interest, payment dates and balances owing. In this article, I will show you how to avoid the headache of managing all of this while making it very simple to keep up with the payments.
The first step is going to require you to put all of this information into an Excel spreadsheet. If you don’t have Microsoft Office’s Excel on your computer, then you can use Google Docs because they also have a spreadsheet option which is exactly the same as Microsoft’s. Once the document is open, begin by listing all of the cards you have in a column, these can be with or without balances owing.
The best part about this first exercise is that it can put everything you owe onto one page and really open your eyes up to the size of the problem, no matter how big or small. Then in the next column, beside each of the cards that you listed, write the amount that you owe to each company. This may require you to log into your online account to be fully aware of the exact amount currently owed. The great thing about Excel is that once you have entered all of these amounts, you can click Auto Sum and it will calculate how much you owe in total.
Seeing all debts amalgamated together like this can bring a different sensation or emotion to simply seeing their smaller values on their own. It’s also good practice to check the limit on each of the cards too because seeing how much more you could potentially get into debt may also be a motivating factor to keep closer tabs on your debt and begin eradicating it from your life.
Keeping track of the interest rates is also a key aspect of managing debt, so in another column write down the interest rate you are being charged for each card. You may have been fully aware of the rate when initially signing up, but overtime it’s likely that you have forgotten and actually found yourself using a card with a higher rate when you didn’t need to.
Now, in the next column is the most important part where you begin piecing your debt free life back together. Use this column to list the repayment dates of each card to help you avoid additional charges, plus organise your cash flow around reducing debt. If any of your cards have balance transfer periods as well, then make sure you note these down to in the spreadsheet so that you can fully understand which cards are charging 0% for 12 months (for example). This will give you some solid deadlines for specific cards to pay off.
Your spreadsheet will now provide you with a total summary of your credit card debt, making it easy to get a snapshot across all cards and how much you need to pay back and, most importantly, by when. The next step should be to get rid of the smallest debt you can with any spare cash you have. This can act as some motivation and give you a sense of a small victory to get the ball rolling.
Then, if you can, it’s a good idea to consolidate your debt onto one card to make it more manageable. The steps to follow as an example could be:
- Reorganise your debt and prioritise your goals around repayments.
- Decide how much you can afford to pay back per month.
- Opt to make fortnightly repayments in line with your pay check.
- Automate the payment directly out of your account on the exact day.
- Set a reminder on the exact date the period will end.
This method should hopefully allow you to visualise everything that you owe, enable you to consolidate your debt and provide a repayment framework. Additionally, it should encourage you to consolidate all debt onto one card to make the repayments more manageable. If you have had any experience with getting rid of debt, please tell us how you managed it and any shortcuts you learnt along the way too.