How to Manage Credit Card Debt and Protect Your Credit Score

man with cash and credit card in wallet

Your credit score is hugely important. Not only do you need it to buy cars and houses, but to secure apartments and higher credit maximums.

This is why you need to take your debt seriously. Failure to handle your debt could result in a reduced credit score, severely impacting your future. 

But you’ve got a problem: you don’t know how to handle your debt. Fortunately, this article is here to help you. Without further ado, here’s how to manage credit card debt. 

Here’s How to Manage Credit Card Debt

Managing credit card debt is about two things: consistency and sacrifice. If you can consistently sacrifice small expenditures, you can save up money to cut down on your debt. Here’s how. 

Assess Your Situation

First and foremost, you need to understand just how much debt you’re up against. While you may think you only have $5,000 in debt, you could actually have $7,500. In terms of debt, this is a fairly sizable difference. 

It’s important to understand the depth of your situation so that you can strategically combat it. The strategy for eliminating $5,000 of debt might feel and look a little different than the strategy for eliminating $7,500 of debt. 

It’s also important to understand the sources of your debt. Generally, it’s a good idea to eliminate the source with the higher interest rate first. In doing so, you’ll minimize interest payments over time, thus minimizing the overall cost of your payments.  

Create a Detailed Budget

When attempting to manage debt, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of a detailed budget. You need to see the numbers in front of you in order to see which of your expenses are necessary and which of your expenses are unnecessary. It’s the money spent on unnecessary expenses that you’ll use to pay off your debt. 

There are a few different options when creating a financial budget. One option is to enter your expenses manually in an excel spreadsheet. This method can be good for some, as it forces them to get up close and personal with their finances. 

Another method is to use a budgeting app. Apps such as Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB) connect to your bank account, tracking your expenses for you. While they save time and effort, they don’t forcefully facilitate the hands-on component found in manual budgeting. 

Do Away With Expensive Snacks

Have you ever thought about how much money you spend on snacks? If you’re like many Americans, you spend $4 to $10 a day on frivolous expenses such as coffee, donuts, bagels, and beer. Over the course of a week, this can add up to anywhere from $25 to $70, all of which could have otherwise been used to eliminate your debt. 

So, in essence, if you really want to get rid of your debt, you’ve got to do away with — or at least cut down on — the expensive snacks. While you can still treat yourself every once in a while, the everyday frivolous spending has to stop. 

Instead of giving your money to the coffee house, or the bar, or the gas station, you could instead buy your snacks at the grocery store. This is a much cheaper option which will save you substantial amounts of money over time. 

Brainstorm Ways to Cut Down on Food Costs

Food is a necessity. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be expensive. You’ll find that there’s normally a way to spend less on groceries than what you’re spending currently. The key is to brainstorm and be strategic. 

Perhaps you could start couponing? Maybe you could download shopping apps? Or maybe you could start shopping at a discount store? 

The truth is, if you try to save as much money as possible, you will, indeed, save money. As they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Avoid Impulse Spending

Avoiding impulse spending isn’t easy, especially if it’s what put in you in debt in the first place. However, with a little self-reflection and a bit of strategic planning, it can be done. If you’re going to pay off your debt, it has to be done. 

First and foremost, before buying something, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary. If you just give yourself some time, you might find that you no longer want to make the purchase. 

Next, you’ll want to avoid places in which impulse spending takes place. This includes everywhere from shopping malls to online retail websites and more. Instead of frequenting these places, you should take on a hobby which keeps you away from them. 

Our last tip to curb impulse spending is to make a list of necessary items. If the item you’re thinking about purchasing isn’t on the list, you shouldn’t purchase it. Simple as that.  

Consolidate 

Our last tip is to consolidate your debt. This is a process wherein you combine all of your debts and turn them into a single amount. In using this method, you can reduce overall interest rates and save money over time. 

If you have good credit, you could think about using a 0% intro APR credit card in order to consolidate. By placing old debts on a 0% intro APR credit card, you’ll be given a 12 to 18 month period in which you don’t have to pay interest on that debt.

Note, however, that if it’s not paid off in full by the time the intro has ended, you will be hit with huge interest charges. In other words, if you’re going to utilize this method, you’re going to have to stick to your plan religiously. 

Now, what if you have bad credit? You could still reap the benefits of a lower interest rate by applying for one of many no credit check cards. While these cards don’t typically have 0% intro APRs, their interest rates could be smaller than the ones you’re up against currently. 

Looking for More Financial Tips?

Now that you know how to manage credit card debt, you might be looking for some other useful tips. If so, Humble Musings has you covered. 

Our website covers a variety of topics and is designed to help individuals lead happy and healthy lives. Whether you’re looking for advice on your finances, on your health, or on life itself, we can help. 

Take a look at our other articles now!