In this season of to-do lists, crazy traffic and the inevitable last-minute trip to the store for that “I can’t believe I forgot it” ingredient or gift, credit card bills are probably one of the last things you want to spend any mental energy on.
But here’s the thing: Having a plan won’t take the joy out of your cheer. In fact, we think it could do just the opposite. Because even if you try to ignore the reality of those future bills, you’re probably not going to be able to. And you’ll feel better if you really know what you’re spending and how you’re going to pay off your credit cards, instead of just living with that pit in your stomach.
Here are five steps to help you get there.
Step 1: Put all your credit cards into Summit’s Money Minder
Quick. What’s the outstanding balance on your credit cards?
Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know. Lots of people don’t. But think how great you’d feel if you did and how it might change your spending to be able to quickly check in on your balances.
Entering your accounts into Money Minder only takes a few minutes. Plus, you can also use Money Minder to get your complete financial picture – all in one place. Create budgets, monitor your spending, set goals and even get an alert when you’ve got a bill due or are close to overdrawing or overspending.
Step 2: Decide how much credit card debt you can pay off each month.
Who hasn’t made that vague promise to “get out of credit card debt?” But you’ll be much more likely to accomplish that goal if you commit to a specific amount each month. So, do it!
It’s ok to pick a target that’s a bit of a stretch, but be realistic. You don’t want it to be so much of a stretch that you never quite make it and just give up. It’s much better to pick a lower amount you can realistically commit to. And, you can always pay off more!
Step 3: Create a prioritized payment list in Money Minder.
Use Money Minder to prioritize your debts. You’ll have an easy way to see how your debts are being paid down and when they’ll be paid off. How motivating is that?
There are two ways to tackle your debts: pay off the card with the lowest balance first or pay off the card with the highest interest rate first. It makes the most sense from a financial standpoint to get rid of the high rate debt as fast as you can. But if you know you’ll be inspired and more likely to keep going by paying a card off, pick the card with the low balance. It’s really up to you and what’s more likely to keep you motivated in the long run.
Step 4: Set up bill pay.
Don’t assume you’ll find the money each month to make that payment you committed to in Step 2. Make it happen with automatic bill pay. This will stop you from spending your credit card payment on something else — especially something else you can’t really afford. Plus, with bill pay your bills will always be paid on time and you’ll save on checks, time and postage.
Step 5: Keep going until all your credit cards are paid off.
You can do it and Summit Credit Union is here to help.
Ready to own your credit card debt? Check out Money Minder today.