Should I consolidate my credit card debt or stay the course?

Sammyraek
Occasional Visitor

I'm curious about debt consolidation. I have cut up credit cards to help me stop using them. But I feel like I'm not making any progress on paying stuff off. Between my personal loan and credit cards I'm paying so much a month and I cannot afford to pay extra on a card to pay anything off faster. I have no extra money for anything which leaves me living pay check to pay check. Any suggestions? Advice? Should I just keep moving along as I am or should I try for a loan to consolidate everything into one payment?

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Answers (1)

Answers (1)

Sammyraek,

 

Don't despair. You have cut up your credit cards and while it may not seem like you are making progress, you are not adding to your debt which deserves a thumbs up! Having said that, let's look at some things to help you move forward.

  • It sounds like you have already spent some time reviewing your cash flow, but it's a good idea to revisit from time to time, especially if it has been a little while. Look for any major changes since you last looked at your cash flow and look for any expenses you can trim or eliminate. In some cases, you may be able to call your service providers to see what options, if any, are available to reduce your costs (just beware of extending contracts or early service termination fees). Use a tool like USAA's Money Manager to help you keep track of your spending.
  • Contact your credit card providers and let them know what you are trying to do, and ask if there is anything they can do to help you along (such as lowering your interest rate or reducing fees you may be paying, but be wary of opening a new card). Also, ask your credit card company how long it will take to pay off each card. What's awesome about doing this is it will give you an idea of when you will be free of these payments and it gives you a view into how you can accelerate things. For instance, as you pay off that first credit card, whether it is in the next year or two years, be diligent about rolling that payment into another outstanding debt so you can pay it off faster. You can also consider using USAA's Debt Manager tool to help you come up with a plan for paying off your balances.

As far as consolidating your debt, visit the Personal Loans page to use the Debt Consolidator Tool. The tool will help you calculate whether or not you can lower your monthly payment or payoff your debt faster. If your interest rates on your existing debts are lower than on a personal loan, then stick with your Debt Manager plan for paying off your balances.

 

Continue to be diligent with not adding to your credit card balances. As you start to pay off your credit cards, here are a few things to be aware of:

  • Start watching your credit score. Consolidating debts and closing older accounts can have an impact on your credit score. It may be okay to close certain accounts, while closing others could negatively impact your score. It is often more beneficial to leave the older accounts open.
  • As you pay down your debt, consider establishing an emergency fund of at least $1,000 to help you avoid adding to your debt as unexpected expenses arise.

Commitment is the toughest part of getting out of debt and it seems you have an abundance of that. Keep at it! I wish you the best as you work towards becoming debt free.