The right debt elimination strategy
Credit card debt should always be kept to a minimum. Ideally, you should always repay everything you’ve charged in a given month before the end of the grace period so you can minimize interest charges and fees applied to purchases you make with a credit card.
With that in mind, credit card payments are a flexible expense in your budget, because how much you need to pay off each month depends on how much you charge. In other words, the amount you spend on credit card debt payments each month can vary based on how much you charged that month.
On the other hand, if you have existing balances that need to be paid off quickly, your best bet is to establish fixed payments in your budget. This is where you determine how much you CAN AFFORD to pay to eliminate credit card debt each month, then you set this amount as a fixed expense in your budget. You pay that amount every month until your debt is eliminated in-full.
Also keep in mind that you need to make a targeted strategy that pays off debt in the most efficient way possible if you are carrying month-to-month credit card balances on multiple cards at once. You should pay the required payments all of your outstanding debts except one, then that extra money that you have allocated goes to making the largest payment possible on one debt.
This is known as a debt reduction strategy. You can start with your highest interest rate first to save money or start with your lowest balance if you want to start eliminating smaller bills to build momentum for your biggest debts. Then once you have all of your debts eliminated, you can start a money management strategy that pays off your credit card debt in-full every month.
How long should it take to pay off credit card debt?
The rule of thumb for debt is that you should be able to create a strategy that allows you to pay back everything you’ve borrowed within 60 payments or less. In other words, you should be able to eliminate all of your credit card debt within 5 years or less.
If you can’t develop a way to do that within the limits of your budget, then you have to seek an alternative means of debt relief. That may mean finding a do-it-yourself debt consolidation solution or using enrolling in a debt management program through a credit counseling agency. You do this to find an easier, faster way to regain financial stability while minimizing money spent on interest charges and credit card fees. Otherwise, even if you can pay off what you owe in more than five years, you’re not doing your budget any favors because you’re allowing debt to linger for too long.