Do you carry a credit card balance?
I know, I know — if you’ve been reading financial blogs for a while, it might be tough to admit that you carry a balance on your MasterCard. But if you’re in that situation, it’s important to face the cold, hard truth.
(And check out the success stories that come from people who have paid off their balances. They’re incredibly inspiring.)
So — for the benefit and inspiration of anyone who might be carrying credit card debt — I’ve compiled a list of eight things that you can look forward to doing once your balance is paid-in-full. Hopefully this will motivate you to accelerate that pay-down!
#1: Pay off the balance every month. Think about how psychologically rewarding it feels to pay your balance in full. Now, imagine doing this every single month. It’s like experiencing a victory every 30 days.
(Alternately, you can forgo this step and purchase everything with a debit card or with literal dollars and cents. Which leads to the next step … )
#2: Cut it up. You’ve had a problem spending excessive amounts of money via the credit card. Why not get rid of the weapon? Cut up the credit card. Don’t find yourself in the same situation you were in before, and take drastic steps to keep it from happening again.
(Assuming you have some emergency savings, you can take this step now — you don’t need to wait until your balance is paid off. If you don’t have emergency savings, though, you might want to hold onto the card, just in case.)
#3: Treat yourself. Here’s a point that not too many people talk about — when you reach your goal, give yourself a reward. It might be a nice new pair of shoes or just a short trip for the weekend. It might be something that’s completely free, like a long soak in the bathtub with a stack of your favorite magazines, or a weekend spent lounging in pajamas watching Netflix. Either way, treat yourself to a reward.
#4: Display your paid-off statement. Print out your final statement — the one that says that your remaining balance is $0.00 — and hang it on your wall. Circle the “Balance Due – $0” in a thick red marker. And look at it, with pride, everyday.
#5: Tackle other debts. Now that your credit cards are paid off in full, look for other opportunities to pay off debt. Perhaps you can start doubling up on car payments or pay more than the minimum amount for your mortgage.
#6: Avoid getting a new credit card. The last thing that you want to do is accrue more debt. Once your credit card is paid off in full, promise yourself that you’ll never go through this experience again.
#7: Build emergency savings. If you followed the Dave Ramsey plan, you saved $1,000 towards emergencies and then applied the rest of your money towards debt payoff. Now that your credit card balance is eliminated, it’s time to start focusing on rebuilding your emergency savings. You’ll feel more liberated, knowing that if any unexpected expenses pop up, you can pay the bill in cash from your savings account.
#8: Contribute more to retirement funds. Final tip: Once your high-interest debt is repaid, it’s also time to start focusing on making adequate contributions to your retirement accounts. As a general rule of thumb, you should contribute 10 to 20 percent of your gross income into a retirement fund. If your employer offers a match, make sure you max it out. (That’s one type of “maxing it out” that I encourage!)
Kennedi writes financial advice for women at Face & Fitness. Read her latest post, 10 Celebrities Who Declared Bankruptcy.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.