Do you feel as if your main enemy in life is credit card debt? If so, you’re like many other working adults who face rising costs of overusing those plastic rectangles. Cards have their place and are not inherently evil, but for many otherwise responsible adults, the monthly expense gets out of control. What’s the solution? There are numerous ways to win the war against spiraling fees, interest charges, and threats to your credit rating. Have no fear; the answers are not as painful as the alternative, which is to continue paying a substantial portion of your income toward high-interest accounts.

Step one is knowing what the situation is. Find out exactly what you owe on each account, what your credit scores are with the three big reporting agencies, and whether there are any errors on the official records. After that, explore consolidation, which can be the single most effective weapon in the war against plastic. Follow a practical guide for building credit so that you are not damaging your score in your attempts to lower your debt. A few actions you can take immediately include getting consumer counseling from a non-profit agency, ceasing to use credit when buying anything, and making a detailed monthly budget. Here’s how to fire the first shot in your personal war on card debt.

Know Where You Stand

Consider joining one of the free credit analysis websites so you can see all your scores in one convenient location and learn what factors go into the calculations. It’s imperative to look up your reports at least once per month to eliminate errors, which occur with more frequency than most people suspect. At some point, you’ll likely discover erroneous information in the form of a charge that you did not make. Contact the bureau in question and let them know about the mistake. They usually are fast to respond once they can verify that the listing is indeed for someone other than you.

A man uses duct tape as he tries to repair his credit by taping together a broken credit card.

Consolidate, Simplify, and Be Victorious

Consider consolidating all your high-interest cards into a single personal loan. Go through a private lender for the best rates and most reasonable terms on these consolidation loans. Not only will this technique greatly simplify your monthly bill paying, but you can also potentially save a significant amount on interest. Another advantage of working with a private lender to obtain a personal loan is that you’ll be helping your credit rating at the same time. Lenders report to all the bureaus, so your on-time payments contribute to a rising credit score in most situations.

Stop Charging Now

Be careful not to cancel or close your charge accounts. That move can have a negative impact on your scores. Instead, consider slicing up those high-interest cards so you aren’t tempted to use them again. Make it a point to pay cash for all your monthly expenses. If you can’t afford something, don’t buy it.

Get Consumer Counseling and Make a Budget

Consumer counseling is a low-cost or no-cost service, depending on your income. But it’s a wise move to visit with a professional counselor who can help you make a detailed budget to be used each month and get your spending under control. There’s no reason to live under a cloud of indebtedness and high-interest rates when so many solutions are available.

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