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30 Jun 2005

Help Get Me Out of Credit Card Debt: 3 Steps

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by Jesse Mecham

No doubt, if you’re here, you’ve probably made some mistakes financially. That’s okay, there’s no adult walking the earth that hasn’t. You can certainly be sure of that.

I truly enjoy helping people get their finances under control. It really does bring me a lot of satisfaction. One thing I do to make sure I stay abreast of new financail crises is to watch message boards. Many times people will join a message board and post something along these lines:

Help me get out of credit card debt!
I really need someone’s help. My spouse and I have made some mistakes financially and now we’re really in a bind. We’re barely making ends meet. I’ve even taken on a part-time job. It just seems there isn’t enough money at the end of the month. No matter how hard we try, it seems there’s always something that comes up that keeps us from saving anything! Please, help us get out of credit card debt. We’re drowning!

Small details in these situations change, but the answer is almost always the same. If you find yourself in a similar situation, think long and hard about what you are about to read, then commit yourself to doing it.

Three steps to help you get out of credit card debt:

1: Cut up your credit cards and close your accounts.

I don’t care about your FICO. I don’t care about “emergencies”. You need to stop borrowing money. You can’t dig yourself out of a hole – you need to climb out. Cut up your credit cards and close your accounts. This step might take a lot of faith on your part. It maybe sent an uneasy feeling to the bottom of your stomach. That’s okay though – that’s just because you have gotten so used to that comforting plastic that you’re going through a bit of withdrawal. Take a deep breath and destroy your credit cards.

2: Get on a written budget.

What does this mean? You write down everything you spend and you sit down at the beginning of the month and budget your money. Experience (mine and thousands of others) has shown that when you begin budgeting your money by having a plan and sticking to that plan, you experience a raise. And usually it isn’t the 3-4% raise you’re used to. We’re talking 10-20% – even 30% at times. When you plan and budget your money you are not constricting yourself, you are telling your money what you want it to do. Once you do that, get out of its way and let it do what you told it to! Once you’re on a written budget you’ll see where you can easily cut back on unnecessary expenses while not even experiencing a change in your lifestyle (which wouldn’t be the end of your world, if you’re having credit card debt issues). Once you have a budget in place, you’ll see where the extra money can come from – enter step three.

3: Snowball your debt.

This final step will be the final blow to your credit cards. Do you want to know what will really help you get out of credit card debt? Big, fat payments on the principal that you owe the credit card companies. That’s right, you will not be shifting the debt around, pretending to actually be doing something. You will be paying down your credit card debt one step at a time.

Let’s do a quick recap on what will help you get out of credit card debt: (1) Cut up your credit cards and close the accounts. Never use them again. (2) Get on a written budget. You tell your money what to do – not the other way around. (3) Snowball your debts into absolute oblivion.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)

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