5 Ways to Prevent a Debt Spiral

By Dan Rafter on 11 August 2016 0 comments

Do you dread opening that credit card statement each month? You're not alone.

The big challenge with credit card debt is that it grows quickly thanks to the high interest rates attached to it — rates as high as 21%. If you carry a balance on your credit cards each month, this can mean that your debt can quickly spiral out of control.

But there are steps that you can take to keep your credit card debt from becoming overwhelming. Here are five moves that can help keep that credit card debt under control while you gradually pay it down.

1. Pay More Than the Minimum

The best move when dealing with high credit card debt? Always pay more than your required minimum monthly payment. Otherwise, your debt will continue to grow, thanks to those high interest rates. (See also: Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates)

Paying more than the minimum will greatly reduce both the time it takes you to pay off that debt and the interest that you'll pay on it. Even if you can only pay $100 or $50 more each month, do it.

2. Stop Spending

This is an obvious one, but if you want to keep your debt from spiraling, stop adding to it. Move to spending cash until you can reduce your credit card debt. It's tempting to pull out your plastic to pay for that new computer or video game. But instead, save up the money first and then make your purchase. Remember, every time you make a purchase with your credit card, you are making it even more difficult to pay down that debt.

3. Make a Plan

You'll struggle to control your credit card debt if you don't first draft a plan to deal with it. One option? Target the credit card with the lowest amount of debt. Make extra payments each month on that card until it's paid off. You can then move on to the card with the next highest amount of debt, making extra payments on it.

Or, if you prefer, follow the same strategy but start with the card with the highest interest rate, making extra payments on it each month until its balance hits zero. Then move on to the card with the next highest interest rate. (See also: Snowballs or Avalanches: Which Debt Reduction Strategy Is Best for You?)

Finally, if you can commit to a certain time frame to pay off your debt, a balance transfer is a great tool for getting rid of debt. Just choose your balance transfer credit cards wisely.

Make sure to not close the cards that you pay off. Doing that will actually cause your FICO credit score to fall. Instead, keep the cards open but only use them for purchases that you can pay off in full each month.

4. Cut Unnecessary Expenses

If your credit card debt is out of control, you need to make paying it down a priority. One way to do this is to free up extra money each month by cutting down on unnecessary expenses. This could mean reducing the number of times you eat out each month and using those extra dollars on your monthly credit card payments. It could mean ending a gym membership. You can exercise without belonging to a gym, after all.

Just make sure that when you reduce an unnecessary monthly expense that you use this money to whittle down your credit card debt.

5. Tackle the Reasons Behind Your Credit Card Debt

The final step in controlling your credit card debt might be the most difficult: You need to determine why you ran up so much debt. What were the reasons behind your excessive debt?

If you don't figure out why you abused your cards, you run the risk of running up your credit card debt again after you pay it off. If you want to keep your credit card debt from ever spiraling out of control again, you need to take a close look at your negative spending habits and change them — permanently.

How do you keep your credit card debt from spiraling?

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5 Ways to Prevent a Debt Spiral

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