18 answers

I Cant Make up My Mind

Hi! I have asked this before and lots of others have to, but I can't decide what to do. I owe alot of credit cards and I'm making a lil more than the min payment. I pulled my credit score and its alright, high 600's. I'm not sure if it would be wise to continue doing what I'm doing by making a lil m ore than the min payments or should I consolidate into 1 payment. I currently owe on 11 credit cards. We're unable to save any money at the time because they come in at different times. I have researched this for months now, but I have gotten mixed reviews. If you did consolidate who did you use and was it worth it? Like I said I have asked before, but I just can't decide what to do. Thanks again for answering another financial question :)

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

S.-
I just wanted to say thanks for asking this question. I have been thinking about the same thing, but dont know if its possible (my balances are super low) but still more than I can pay off right now.
Good luck!
I know how hard it is :-) Maybe by this time next year we'll be debt free!!

I would listen to Dave Ramsey. He is a great financial advisor and has helped my son. He has a show on AM radio. Also you could look him up on the internet or go to the library and find some of his books.

More Answers

Hi S.,

With a consolodation loan you will be paying probably a lower interest rate than is on any of your credit cards. But if you don't want to do it that way then you can take them out one by one and still achieve your goal. First thing you need to do is put the cards away where you won't use them. If that is too tempting then just cut them up so you can't use them. Then you make minimum payments on all of your credit cards except the one with the lowest balance. You put everything you can toward that lowest bill every month until it is paid in full. When it is, take all the money you were paying on that card and apply it to the next lowest bill on top of the minimum you were paying on it. When that is gone, take the combined payments of the first and second card and put it toward the third and on down the line till they are all gone. As you get further along you will be able to put more and more toward the smallest bill and they will get paid in full quicker and quicker. I just paid off my lowest card this month and now I can double the payment toward the next one until it's paid, then triple payment on the third when the second is paid off. It means I have to live within my means and not get anything extra for awhile but it will definitely be worth it when my car needs repairs again. I'll have the open credit to pay for it without having to take out another card.

Good luck - S.

I would look at the interest rates. If they are all really high then you need to consolidate and get them to a lower rate. If they aren't really high, then I think that Ramsey and Orman say to take the lowest balance card, pay the min on the rest and put all the extra that you were puttin on the others onto this one until it is paid off. Then take what you were paying on that one, and put it on the next lowest balance (in addition to what your normal payment is), until that one is paid off. Keep going in this way until they are all paid off. If you have more questions, I would be happy to explain, jsut email me. Suze Orman has some great tools on her website for helping to elimiate CC debt.

Stacie read the book Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
He will teach you how to pay off your debt and how to start living debt free. Its an excellent book and very easy to read. I read it in a few days. You can also go to his website to download budget forms if you want more than the book has. www.daveramsey.com He has a very intense, in your face style which is really refreshing He tells it like it is. I highly recommend it.

I would review all the credit cards as if they were 11 different loans. Eliminate the highest interest and card that charge an annual fee and then only use the few that have low interest and fees. In my opinion that is too many cards. You are spending beyond your means if you have 11 loans (credit cards are loans with high interest rates). It's always best to get out of debt as fast as you can. Keep one or two cards and use them wisely.

Hey S.-

I once used GreenPath to help consolidate my debts. They are a non profit company, worked with me to get on a plan, checked up on me and, in the end, helped me to get on track. Trust me, the road may seem long now, but once you do it on your own, you'll appreciate it so much more.
Good luck!

Currently, we are using Greenpath to consolidate and pay off our debt. As a condition of the program we had to get rid of the credit cards/the accounts were closed and can't apply for any new ones - for a certain amount of time after the program is over.

It was so worth it because we can only spend in cash (or debit card)and we have learned how to manage our money - and have managed to save a little, as well. The down side is that my credit score has taken a hit, but I really don't care about my credit score anymore. I really just want to get out of debt and never want to use another credit card again.

We tried doing the take the smallest payment and pay that down and then the next smallest payment on our own-and admittedly we were successful with smaller bills; however, we kept using the other cards and we were still struggling to manage our money because we just weren't good at it.

Dave Ramsey is a good resource, but we found that Greenpath worked better for us because we needed help staying on track and making sure our bills were paid on time. (late charges add up) and at the time we sought help, we really needed more disipline than what we had just doing it ourselves-and we wanted the help to get this under control.

You do pay a monthly fee for the service, but that's how they make their money to help people like you and me out. Also, the deal with the creditors, so you stop getting the calls - or let them know when you do. And they negotiate your interest rates down so you can pay the bill down quicker. Also, Suze Orman recommends them on her show.

For us, it has been totally worth it. It has taken us awhile to get our spending under control on our end, but our payments to Greenpath are automatic (which helps). It was so hard at first because we were so used to reaching for the credit card, but it's gotten a lot better and most importantly, our attitudes about money and using money have changed a lot in the past couple of years.

I would totally recommend their service to anyone.

definitely consolidate those cards and get rid of your debt as quickly as you can. There are companies that do it for you. I don't know any names off the top of my head, but I hear their commercials on the radio all the time. The faster you can pay off the debt and start to save the better.

These companies may be able to get a lower percentage rate for you as well. Research it thoroughly before doing anything though.

S., don't worry. There are alot of things you can do. If you have a credit card with a large enough available balance, you should try to transfer the whichever other balanaces you can to that card. Even if you only get to consolidate a few cards at least you've decreased your bills. You van also go to a credit union and speak to a financial advisor. They'll be able to direct you to various programs. You can also call a debt solution company (InCharge is good. I used them after I got out of college). They will negotiate lower rates for you. And also collect one payment from you and distribute it to the card members. These are only a few of your options. But, I must say it, you gotta put those cards down. That's the first step. Cash and debit cards. You can't get rid of debt as long as your using debt. Or pick one credit card to use. Good luck. Everything will be fine.

S.-
I just wanted to say thanks for asking this question. I have been thinking about the same thing, but dont know if its possible (my balances are super low) but still more than I can pay off right now.
Good luck!
I know how hard it is :-) Maybe by this time next year we'll be debt free!!

I'm a follower of Dave Ramsey (as someone else mentioned) and it's made a world of difference. Basically, you make ONLY the minimum on everything except the lowest balance card. You throw all the extra money at that card until it's paid off and then you use that payment to attack the next in line.

Also, sounds like you need to get a written budget since you said you can never save because the money comes in at different times.

Hi S.,

I highly highly recommend the program by Dave Ramsey. It is the only "debt free" program that we have used and our balances are actually going down. We have been working the plan for over a year and after you read his book (My Total Money Makeover), and listen to his radio show, you will learn that what he teaches is just plain old common sense. He will tell you not to CON-solidate your debts-that is not changing the behavior. Getting out of debt is mostly a behavioral issue-not a math issue-if it were about math, we wouldn't be in debt, right? LOL. The online forums at www.daveramsey.com are absolutely awesome! I have learned so much, gotten sooo many ideas and gotten so much support & drive from the members. The membership is worth every single penny-but I think you do get a week or month trial for free-highly recommend it. Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. GOOD LUCK! :)

S.,

Along with the advice from the other moms I would also add making a budget to the other suggestions. I know this is hard and sometimes it seems like a really huge task, but if you break it down into baby steps it's not too bad.

The reason I suggest a monthly budget is so you know how much money you can afford to put toward your goal card, the one you are paying off with extra cash. My husband and I have a monthly budget and we review it every 6 months to make sure we are still on track for our goals. Here is a great website I recommend to anyone who needs help getting started with creating a monthly budget.
http://www.flylady.net/images/FACE2004.pdf

In addition to Suze Orman's and Dave Ramsey's ideas, this journal can help you organize and analyze your income and all of your outgoing bills. Then it can help you to set goals such as paying off credit cards, creating a savings, saving for car repairs, etc.

You have made a great decision to pay off your credit cards and I wish you luck on your journey. All your hard work will pay off in the end!

-C..

I have read and it makes sense to make the minimum payment on all cards but one. Pay as much over on that one as you can until paid off then tackle the next. Dave Ramsey suggests starting with the smallest balance so that you have tangible results right away. Keeps you motivated.

You have gotten some really great advice, but I just wanted to let you know that we got a consolidation loan from MSU Federal Credit Union. They gave us a great rate and we had the payments come right out of our account, so they weren't late etc..... We paid it off in three years, it felt great. Now we need to do that again!

R. L.

Stacie,

We too had a lot of small credit cards but started paying them off one at a time starting with the lowest balance. We would pay on all of them to keep them from being delinquent but would put extra on the smallest until it was gone. Then we got rid of that card and worked on the next one. It has worked for us. Even though I have not seen the Dave Ramsey program I hear it is very good and helpful so I would look at that too. We are currently living off just my husbands income since my job has temporarily tanked and I'm not getting paid. We are doing fine on just his income by eliminating so much of our debt. Stay focused on paying those cards off and you will see a big difference.

Good luck,
S.

Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?
http://www.daveramsey.com/
He has books and seminars...or you can do some online searching...youtube, etc. My sister teaches a "financial peace university" at her church that uses all the teachings of Dave Ramsey. His way of getting out of debt has helped her and many people around us.
You may feel like it is impossible...but you will get out from under all those interest, and finance fees!
Good luck.

K.

Hi S., Pretty name. Well, the best advice that myself
and so many other people have taken is from Dave Ramsey.
He is a Christian Finance writer and Counselor. He has a
program on WMUZ FM 103.5 every evening from 7P.M. till 9P.M. He encourages to make out a budget and pay down the credit cards. I always hear encouraging words from friends that have taken his course and follow his principals. We are working to be DEBT FREE. Hope and pray that you and your husband would find this information helpful. Good Luck.
K.

I would listen to Dave Ramsey. He is a great financial advisor and has helped my son. He has a show on AM radio. Also you could look him up on the internet or go to the library and find some of his books.

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