Are you embarrassed by your credit card debt?
I was a few years ago and had $5500 to be exact. Paying this debt off was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’d spend most of my paycheck towards debt and felt miserable.
Credit card debt is common, unfortunately. No one spent time teaching me about debt, and my guess is that no one taught you neither. A major part of the problem is being uneducated and learning bad money habits.
The result? You’re now left feeling embarrassed by the amount of debt you carry, and it’s only getting bigger.
The truth is a lack of strategies isn’t the problem–poor execution is. You need to plan before executing any strategy to make consistent progress. Whether you have $1000 of credit card debt or $10,000 you’ll need the right mindset to pay it all off.
If you’re done wasting time learning more “debt paying strategies”, then listen up. Here’s how to crush your credit card debt even when you’re embarrassed to start.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” –Henry Ford
If you don’t believe you can achieve something, guess what?
Having the right mindset is crucial to paying off your debt. Here’s why you’ll feel more confident and be more likely to make consistent progress. But, when you have the wrong mindset you’re prone to fail before you even start.
Instead, be clear on why you’re paying off your debt in the first place. For example, paying off your debt could mean you’d be able to travel more without feeling guilty. Or, you’ll be able to sleep not having to constantly think about your debt.
A strong morning routine will also help you build a stronger mindset. Stop waking up and immediately going to “work-mode.” Do start your mornings working out your body and mind.
For example, go to the gym and work on your personal goals before heading to work. Imagine how good you’d feel getting more done by 9 am than most people do in an entire day. Become stronger mentally and you’ll be less likely have more debt.
Stating that you want to be debt free isn’t going to cut it.
This is nothing more than a wish. You need to be specific with what you want to do.
For example, I broke down $5500 into 18 months. I did this because I’d wanted to pay off my entire balance in 18 months. Knowing this I knew that I had to pay $305 each month (5500/18.)
Start by understanding your cash flow
Find out how much money you have available each month (income – expenses = money available.) Once you know this you’ll be able to predict how much you can put towards paying off your credit card debt. Whatever money you have available only spend 90% towards your credit card debt.
That’s because spending all your available money towards debt is unrealistic. Some weeks you’ll want to spend your money elsewhere or go over your budget. It’s best to pay a smaller amount than paying a larger amount and quitting.
It’s tempting to want to pay a few hundred dollars towards your credit card debt, but this is a huge mistake.
Instead, pay $50 or less towards principle. Then, increase this amount as you start feeling comfortable. This will prevent you from burning out.
Have you ever met someone who made it their new year’s resolution to lose 10–50 lbs?
Most of these people fizzle out shortly after setting their new year’s resolution. They had good intentions and started going to the gym 5 days per week. But, after a month or two they felt burned out and stopped going altogether.
They’d burned out because they weren’t accustomed to going to the gym. Debt works the same way. Since you’re accustomed to spending more than you save, you need to slowly start spending less. Focus more on building good habits instead of only paying down debt.
This way you’d avoid being in a similar situation in the future.
Have tunnel vision on your journey to becoming debt free.
In the beginning, things will go smooth, but eventually, you’ll hit many roadblocks. For example, your friends will ask you to go out at times when you don’t have enough money. You’ll also want to buy nice things at unexpected times.
Beginning with the end in mind will allow you to prepare for these setbacks. But, how can you prepare? By having a reward system.
For example, buy your favorite coffee each week after reaching your goals. If you’re not a coffee person then pick a reward that’s meaningful to you. But, be sure to pick a reward that isn’t expensive
The truth is paying your credit card debt won’t be easy.
Even with reward systems and clear goals you’re still prone to giving up. A great way to stay inspired is by reading other success stories. These stories will remind you that you’re not alone in your journey and that your goal is possible.
Use tools like Feedly to curate the top finance blogs to easily read new stories each day. Mix reading debt stories with new money strategies. Get into the habit of reading finance blogs 15–60 minutes each day.
Use your smartphone to listen to Podcasts that will inspire you and help you grow. Here are a few that I recommend:
I get it, listening to your favorite tunes is a must, especially after a long day from work. But, aim to squeeze in 15–30 minutes of an educational Podcast in your daily commute–it can make all the difference.
You have about 90% of the information you’ll need to crush your debt.
But, it’s still important that you plan how you’ll pay it off and stay debt free.
Become intentional with eliminating the habits that got you into debt in the first place.
Use tools like Personal Captial to review how you’ve spent your money in the last few months. Then find a solution.
For example, if you spend $100 each week on take-out food, start cooking more often. If you’ve bought a lot of the items you no longer want–create a 1-month rule. The rule works like this, each time you want to buy something, wait a month to see if you’d still buy it.
A better way to kill bad credit card habits is to become less dependent on your card. Leaving my credit card at home has worked wonders for me. I had no choice but to use cash to make all my purchases and became more thoughtful with what I’d buy.
During the first few weeks, it will be challenging. The hardest part will be walking away from buying something you want because you don’t have the money. But, as with anything the more you practice the better you’ll get.
After creating a plan and knowing your budget apply for 0% APR credit card promotion. Typically these promotions last 12–18 months.
This is good because that’s enough time to pay down a lot of your debt. Keep in mind that if your debt is too big this plan may not work. Your approved credit limit will determine how much debt you’ll be able to transfer.
A few years back when I tried this method my credit score was 720 and had a credit limit of $5500. With this balance, I was able to transfer all my balances from 4 different credit cards. Using this strategy helped save money on interest and made it easier paying to one credit card.
But, if you’re not able to cover all your balance don’t worry. Transfer as much as you can and keep tracking your remaining credit cards in a spreadsheet. Aim to pay down the smallest balance first while paying the least to the other credit cards.
Imagine logging in to your bank account and only seeing $100 charge in your credit card statement.
You don’t consider this debt because this is a monthly charge that you’ll soon pay off. Paying down your debt took discipline, perseverance, and hustle. But, because of this, you’re now a better person.
You no longer depend on your credit card and you’re saving more money than ever. The best part is that you’re no longer embarrassed about your finances–you’re confident.
Isn’t this something you’d want?
Paying down debt isn’t complicated. Stop searching for more debt strategies because they won’t work. Not without the right mindset.
If I was able to pay down all my credit card debt–so can you.
Work on building a strong mindset, setting clear goals, and starting small.
Being debt free is right around the corner. Will, you continue being in debt or finally take action?
Chris writes personal finance and productivity articles for software companies. He gets fresh ideas through continuously investing in himself and interviewing successful entrepreneurs.