As of January 2014, the average North American household has $15,270 in credit card debt, in addition to $148,925 in mortgage debt and $32,258 in student loan debt. Attacking credit cards and other bills can ease the burden. Take the following tips in stride to see progress in 2014.
Budget everything Get your finances organized and maintained. From simple software to smartphone apps that can seamlessly sync with other devices in the household, add transactions in real-time and see your balance. Take advantage of monthly and annual (think gifts and vacations) budgets to zero in on your spending habits. How can you make improvements without data to spot the trends? This is key to any long-term momentum.
Snowball it Since many people have multiple credit cards with high balances, the smart thing is to target these dangerous forms of plastic. The snowball method argues that consumers should target the credit card with the lowest balance, while paying the minimum payment on the others. This allows you to eliminate cards one by one, and once you start seeing the benefits - you're more likely to continue in that direction. Life is much easier once you go from five credit cards to just two… and one… or none - and finally to your goal of not having a credit card with a balance.
More tips for success
• Establish an emergency fund first, as an unexpected event can take the steam out of any progress you may make in the future.
• Avoid eating out as much – it’s much cheaper and healthier!
• Don't become too strict unless it's necessary. It's all right to splurge within reason and within the confines of your budget. Just don't rush into purchases; put the item on hold and sleep on it.
• Get rid of what's unnecessary. Maybe Netflix and Hulu can help you get rid of your pricey cable bill; maybe you don't really need that data plan.
• Have fun! If this isn't a long-term plan that involves rewarding yourself and celebrating small victories, will it really last?
About the Author: Brian Neese is an author that specializes in content marketing, social media, and SEO. He writes about technology, education, and how to get out of debt.