Paying Down Debt Isn’t Impossible

Turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones

The following infographic recently appeared in our email inbox from CompareCards.com. Since many of the financial assistance applicants we hear from have some level of credit card debt, we thought we would pass it along. Even if you have “just a little” credit card debt, paying it down is a good idea and can prevent a bigger problem in the future.

Payment showdown infographic
Find the original infographic at CompareCards.com along with information on getting the best credit card and other credit card services.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change

First, so there are no surprises, there is no secret formula to breaking up large tasks like financial debt, you just do it. The fact that you can acknowledge the problem is the biggest step you will make in this area. Large overpowering tasks are just a collection of many smaller jobs all joined together. Start thinking like this and you are well on your way.

The longer the hesitation, the smaller the pieces should be

If you find yourself hesitating before jumping in to tackle your debt problem, it is a signal that what is ahead of you needs to be broken up into smaller chunks. Everything else being equal, you will get more and better productivity out of yourself if you do a two hour job in two stretches. Keep in mind the impact of a start and a restart.

Tailor your plan to your “financial” personality

If you are a results-driven person, Dave Ramsey, author of “Total Money Makeover” suggests the “debt snowball” method. This involves paying off debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. “Pay off the first debt quickly, and it gets you fired up to do it again and again,” he says. Ramsey believes the “debt snowball” method is for every type of consumer. “The only time that you should pay off a larger debt sooner than a smaller one is when you owe the IRS, or if you are trying to stop a foreclosure,” he says. “Other than that, everyone should focus on paying the smallest to the largest debt.”

On the other hand, if you are more swayed by numbers, sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. “By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards,” writes Mint.com spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.

Is it doable right now?

Ask yourself this: Without any fanfare or additional planning, is paying down your debt, doable? If the answer is yes, jump in. If the answer is no, then first take the steps that are required to make it doable. Starting something when you are not properly prepared, especially a larger than normal task, makes your prospects of success almost zero. You can’t always postpone tasks to suit your timetable, but starting a task when you are ill prepared means starting with at least one hand tied behind your back. Not a position you want to find yourself in.

When you can’t go it alone

What happens if you lay it all out on the table and the task still seems insurmountable? Then it is time to get some help. A good place to begin, and a resource Binc often suggests – is a free credit counseling session from Greenpath or your area CCCS. Their free consumer credit counseling and debt counseling is offered without a sales pitch. A meeting with one of their advisors will help you explore options for achieving your financial goals and you leave with a customized action plan. Another good source of help can be your local credit union. Many offer workshops to get you started with a budget and to help get your finances in order.

Paying down debt

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