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Updated: 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 | Posted: 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

Paying Off Credit Card Debt

There are several steps you should take to get out of credit card debt. Paying off several thousand dollars or more in credit card debt takes time, so you must discipline yourself. I usually find setting a goal of paying down debt in 60 months or less works best for people. Anything greater than 60 months and people tend to lose their focus.

  1. If you have several cards, your first goal is to pay off the card with the highest interest rate. This process is called laddering.  
  2. Pay more money toward that credit card and slightly less toward the other cards, until the card with highest-interest debt has a zero balance. Then you move onto the next card, and so on and so on. Resist the temptation to close the account when it's at a zero balance. Doing so will only hurt your credit score.
  3. One proven way to pay more toward the card with the highest interest rate -- and to get rid of it faster -- is to make a separate payment every 14 days to the credit card company. Mark your calendar every 14 days and write that check or send your online payment that day. Making a payment every 14 days equals one extra month's payment you've made at the end of the year. Work these payments around your statement cycle to avoid paying late fees.  

 
For help during the process, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counsling at NFCC.org or call 800-388-2227. You may also want to check out the book Invest in Yourself: Six Secrets to a Rich Life by Marc Eisenson.