Making New Year’s resolutions is an annual event. Unfortunately, most of us give up on those goals pretty quickly, reverting to our bad old habits by the time Groundhog Day rolls around.
If you neglected a New Year’s resolution to pay off your credit card debt, don’t worry — the Nerds have some ideas for getting your good intentions back on track even at this late date. Take a look at our tips below.
1. Evaluate what went wrong
Find the reason you didn’t follow through.
Did you run into a big emergency where you relied on your card to pay the bill? Did you forget about your mom’s birthday then blow your budget on a last-minute gift?
Thinking carefully about what caused you to falter is important, because coming up with solutions is the next step in getting back on track.
2. Remove roadblocks to success
It’s time to remove the obstacles that got in your way. This might even include removing the temptation to spend with your card altogether.
For instance, let’s say you realized that you ditched your debt payoff plan when a stressful workweek hit and you weren’t able to prepare cheap eats at home. In this case, food costs represented a barrier to success. Now, come up with a plan to prepare your meals ahead of time so you won’t be tempted to overspend on pricey takeout next time.
Some roadblocks are easy to spot and remove, but perhaps you’ve found that carrying your credit card makes it too tempting to overspend in general. In that case, switch to cash and consider creative measures to keep yourself from accessing your card. What seems crazy at first might just be the best money move you’ll ever make.
3. Set small goals
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have a massive pile of credit card debt to pay off. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to giving up. A good way to make your resolution stick is to set small goals and reward yourself for achieving them.
When one of the Nerds was paying down her credit card, she kept a list of things she was putting off buying. Every time she knocked $500 off her balance, she’d buy one of those things. This strategy kept her motivated and made her feel less deprived as she was working through a long timeline to pay off debt. Achieving small goals can add up to big success over time.
4. Take the long view
Making mistakes is part of being human, so when you mess up and overspend, don’t be too hard on yourself. Beating yourself up erodes confidence, and that’s no way to tackle accomplishing a tough resolution.
In the grand scheme of things, a setback every now and then won’t derail your long-term plans to pay off debt. Don’t feel defeated and let one out-of-control month turn into six. Take the long view and learn from bad months.
5. Make it easier
It can feel defeating to make big payments on your card, only to have them eaten into by huge interest charges. Why not achieve your resolution faster by doing a balance transfer to a 0% card?
When done carefully, moving your high interest balance to a 0% card can save you big bucks in interest charges. Also, you’ll make more progress on your payoff every month, which will keep you motivated to keep going. Paying off a credit card is tough, so tools to make it easier might help.
The bottom line: If you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolution to pay off your credit card, there are steps you can take to rebound. With a little strategizing and lot of perseverance, you’ll be looking at a $0 balance on your card in no time!
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