I got my first credit card at nineteen - with no solid financial education and an incessant need to shop, I made a lot of financial mistakes. I kept increasing the credit limit whenever it was offered, got a second credit card, and took out student loans. The debt eventually piled up and most of my attempts to pare it down have not been helpful. It then became evident that I needed professional advice to make a dent in my debt and start to see those numbers go down. Financial coach, Cindy Marques, filled in a lot of gaps for me and provided me with the information I had been missing. As women of colour, who might not have had access to this level of information before, it could feel really overwhelming. However, Cindy was able to breakdown financial lessons in a way that felt accessible, achievable and exciting. So, I made a plan for paying down my debt using the tips she offered and I’m hoping to see some real change soon.
I plan on using the snowball method, which means paying the minimum balances on all debts until the smallest amount is paid off.
Here are a few of the strategies I’ve put in place:
- List out and organize your debts from highest to lowest interest rate: Luckily for me, the credit card with the highest interest rate is also the one with the least amount on it. My plan is to tackle this credit card first, move on to the second credit after and handle my student loans last. My student loans have the highest amount to pay off but also the lowest interest rate. I plan on using the snowball method, which means paying the minimum balances on all debts until the smallest amount is paid off. Then adding the minimum balance from that card into the minimum for the second card until that card is paid off. Lastly, rolling the minimum from both credit cards into the debt from student loans and work at it until that debt has been paid off as well.
- Automate debt payments: after outlining step one and figuring out the minimum balance on all of my debt, I’ll be automating these payments. I plan on having a separate bank account specifically for these payments. As Cindy suggested, this takes away any additional effort and makes the process more streamlined. It means that I can rest easy knowing that there’s a plan in place.
I’ve spent lots of moments panicked and overwhelmed at the looming debt hanging over me. Tackling it seemed impossible and has been a source of shame and frustration. However, I’m excited to have a plan and to slowly start chipping away at my metaphorical mountain of debt. I would love to hear from you, how are you handling your debt?
You can watch Cindy’s talk here to shift your mindset and develop healthier practices for managing your money.
This blog post from The Villij has a few tips to help with budgeting.