By Jim Donovan
If you’re suffering from a holiday spending hangover, the new year brings an opportunity to get your finances back on track. As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan explains, you should begin by taking a serious look at paying down credit card debt.
Did the holidays leave your wallet thin and your credit card bills fat? According to the U.S. Census Bureau the average American cardholder will carry about $5,400 dollars in outstanding credit card debt in 2012.
Some experts recommend paying twice the amount of your minimum monthly payment, but if you don’t have that much cash, even just a few extra bucks can help. Beverly Harzog with Credit.com says, “If you only have enough money to pay even just 20 or 30 dollars extra a month, that can make a huge dent over time.”
As with new year’s resolutions like dieting or more exercise, too many drastic changes in your habits, may get you frustrated. Harzog recommends three simple steps:
First, keep tabs on your credit report. Second? Track all of your spending to see how it fits into your debt payment plans. Third, look for balance transfer offers if a card’s interest rate is too high. According to Harzog, “What this means is that you can transfer your large credit card debt that you have on a high interest card, you can transfer that to a new card that’s offering a zero percent annual percentage rate for a certain amount of time.” That will keep your interest payments at a minimum while you pay down your balance.
Be sure when doing any balance transfers that you read the fine print, especially if it involves a limited time low interest rate promotion. Once those promotional periods end, your interest rate will jump. So you want to make sure, it doesn’t go higher than the rate you’re trying to get away from in the first place.