7 ways to stop getting stuck in debt

October 9, 2015

Getting into debt can be a very scary thing—but just because you're in debt now doesn't mean you'll face inevitable financial doom. If you're looking to cut your expenses, improve your credit rating, and do away with debt keep these tips in mind.

7 ways to stop getting stuck in debt

1. Pay credit card bills twice a month

  • If you owe a lot on high-interest rate credit cards, make a payment every two weeks instead of once a month, even if you're just paying the minimum amount due.
  • Why? Because this will cut the interest as it accrues. It may not seem like much right now, but over time, you'll save a bundle.

2. Pay credit card bills immediately

  • While it's wonderful that credit card companies give you a grace period before interest accrues on your balance, keep in mind that the longer you wait to make your payment, the more interest accrues on your previous debt.
  • So don't file that bill away for later—pay it at your first opportunity.

3. Resist the temptation of pre-approved credit card offers

Credit card companies know how to trap new customers by sending out a ton of offers. Once you take the bait on a card and they have you, chances are you're going to run up some debt.

4. Don't be fooled by a zero percent introductory rates

  • Many cards now charge an introductory rate of zero percent on credit card transfers. Sounds great, right?
  • Here's the snag: often that rate rises to 18 percent or more after the six-month introductory grace period. Before you sign up, make sure you know what you'll be paying down the line.

5. Put your good penmanship to good use

  • Another easy way to avoid credit card late fees: write legibly, because it's perfectly legal for credit card companies to hold, reroute and otherwise stall payments that they say they can't read.
  • They can do this for five days without having to contact you. If your payment due date passes in the meantime, tough luck.

6. Stop writing notes

  • Don't write notes to your credit card company and enclose them with your payment. Why? Those companies are allowed to take the notes, along with the bills and cheques you attached the note to, and reroute them back and forth to different departments for up to five days.
  • As a result, you may miss your payment deadline. It will also give the credit card companies another few days to suck some interest charges out of you. And it's not just notes you write on separate pieces of paper that delay your payment. Even a small notation on your bill— say, "Making more than minimum payment"—means your bill is being redirected and, quite possibly, late.

7. Scrap those yearly credit card fees

  • Want that annual credit card fee waived? As with many things in life, you may just get your way if you ask.
  • Simply dial up the number on the back of the card, and tell the representative that you don't want to pay the fee any longer, and you'll switch to a different credit card if you have to. One credit counselor says that most of the time, the first customer service rep on the line will have the authority to waive or discount the fee. If you routinely carry a balance, it's likely that you'll get your way.

More advice

Staying on top of your finances will pay off in the long run. In addition to following the above tips, consider sticking to a budget to get yourself out of debt that much faster.

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