If you’re facing credit card debt that looms larger and larger every day, there are several key steps you can take to get your financial house in order.

1. Negotiate lower rates
Credit card companies have varying policies when it comes to lowering your interest rates, so it never hurts to ask. You may be able to reduce your interest rate by as much as a few percentage points with a simple phone call. Any reduction is likely to be temporary, however, so it’s only a short-term solution.

2. Tackle the highest rate first
If you’re like many wondering, “How do I get out of credit card debt,” you may consider another strategy called laddering. After you’ve negotiated your rates for each credit card, prioritize the card with the highest rate. Put as much toward this card as possible each month while paying just the minimum on the other credit cards. Once this first card is paid off completely, move on to the next highest and continue in this pattern until all balances are paid.

3. Put a freeze on your plastic purchases
If you want to reduce or eliminate your credit card debt, the first step is to be honest with yourself about how you got here and adjust your spending habits accordingly. Limiting yourself to your own earned funds will make you a more thoughtful, cautious consumer.

4. Make a realistic budget
Write down all monthly living costs, including housing, utilities, gas, car insurance, and other fixed expenses. Go through your bank and credit card statements and find areas where you can make cutbacks. Then, create a budget – but make sure your goals are reasonable. You may run the risk of failure if a drastically different lifestyle is too difficult to sustain. It’s often easier to cut back slightly in multiple areas rather than cut out one or two things completely.

For additional assistance in creating a plan to get out of credit card debt, contact Take Charge America to speak with a credit counselor.

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