My wife had a full time job, then stopped working for a few years when we had children, then went back to work part time for about 8 years. This was a big decrease in income and, regrettably, a lot of times we charged to compensate in doing or buying things needed during that time that we would have had the money for if she were still working full-time which has put us in a hole. My wife has since back full-time and we are slowly climbing out of debt by trying to pay off the lowest balance cards first. I want to be out of credit card debt before in 3 years before our oldest graduates but it is not moving as quickly as I’d like. We are currently about $60K in cc debt making minimum payments of $1419/mo. Average rate is 16%. Every other month we are able to pay an extra $1K to the minimum payment which we are applying to the lowest balance card. We are able to fairly comfortably make the minimum payments and haven’t fallen behind therefore I didn’t want to go the route of debt negotiation where you have to skip payments for them to negotiate and therefore decrease credit scores or bankruptcy.
Based on our situation, what would you suggest we do to enable us to pay this off within 3 years?
If you want to accelerate the pay off of the credit cards you will want to try to lower your average interest rates. There are a couple of ways you can do that.
You can try contacting your creditors and asking for a lower rate, however most of them are likely to tell you no. It doesn’t hurt to try though.
If that doesn’t work, you can look into getting a debt consolidation loan with either a credit union or a peer to peer lending network like lending club. You likely won’t be able to borrow the full amount, but if you can get a loan for 20,000 or 25,000 at a decent rate, you could use that to pay off your highest interest cards.
You can contact a credit counseling program and ask them for a quote that would have your debt paid off within 3 years. They should be able to lower your rate below your current average of 16%.
A fourth option would involve falling behind for a month or 2 which you mentioned you were not fond of. Most creditors have internal hardship programs that they will only offer to consumers who are behind on payments. Often times you can get very favorable rates, even down to 0%.
Utilizing one of these options, you will be able to bring your average rate down, and likely meet your goal of paying off your debt within 3 years, assuming of course you will be able to continue making that extra 1000 dollar payment every other month.
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