In a perfect world, we'd all pay off our credit cards each month, maintain perfect credit scores and brush our teeth five times a day.
But stuff happens, and credit card companies depend on that to make a profit. If we all paid on time, every time, they wouldn't earn any money. And, credit card finance charges can add up.
As credit interest rates hit record highs, here are eight ways to find extra money to chip away at your card debt and beat its rising cost.
1. Look for rebates and rewards
If you are paying full price for anything, you are missing out on easy discounts. Many credit cards offer cash back on every purchase, with special promos for purchases on gas, groceries, and more. While you definitely want to pay down your credit card debt, you might as well earn a bit of money back on the purchases you have to make.
If you patronize one grocery store regularly, join its rewards program. You'll save money through members-only deals, and you can redeem rewards on future purchases.
For more information on shopping, rebates and rewards, take a look at this article on how to save $200 (or more) every month by making simple changes to how you grocery shop.
2. Put your extra space to work for you
A bit of spare time and a spare room. That’s all you need to get started earning extra income as a host on Airbnb.
Whether you want to become an entrepreneur and work for yourself or if you already have a full-time job and just hope to make some extra cash in your free time, Airbnb can be the answer. You get to choose when and how often you host. You can share a spare room in your apartment, or host your whole home the next time you’re out of town.
Airbnb makes it simple to earn by putting your extra space to work for you.
3. Negotiate everything
We tend to view things like utility bills, car payments and past-due bills as fixed amounts with no room for discussion. But everything is negotiable, and you'd be surprised how much money you can save by negotiating with your creditors and service providers.
Reach out to your mobile phone service provider and let them know you're considering switching to another, less expensive carrier. To avoid losing your business, they may inform you about discounts or packages that could cut your monthly bill.
The same holds true for car insurance, gas and electric, internet providers, and so on. Explore your options, negotiate and save.
While you're at it, ask if your credit card issuer will lower your rate.
4. Sell your stuff
Most of us have things we don't need just lying around. Selling that stuff can free up space in your home or garage, and give you extra money to use to pay down your credit card debt. Take an inventory of every extraneous thing you own, and see what might be worth a fortune to someone else.
Go on, and turn your books and DVDs into cash — it's all going digital anyway.
5. Consolidate your debt
Paying a bunch of different bills can be confusing and time-consuming — which is why they often go unpaid and accrue interest.
If you have multiple unsecured debts, and particularly if some have punishingly high interest rates, consider a consolidation plan. You'll be writing one check instead of several, and having one debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate will save you money in the long run.
You might consider Fiona, a personal loan matcher that can get you approved for a $1,000 to a $100,000 loan to pay off your debt. The repayment terms are between two and seven years, depending on the loan. Checking to see if you qualify will not affect your credit score.
6. Automate your payments (and savings)
If the last suggestion appealed to you because you have trouble remembering to pay bills, but you'd rather not apply for a debt consolidation loan, automation may be the way to go.
Most credit card companies allow you to set up an automated payment plan. You choose an amount you know you'll be able to cover and have it deducted from your account automatically each month.
You can start to grow your savings, by automatically investing your spare change using an app like Stash. This is how you can build up a fund for emergencies and more.
With an emergency fund you won't have to resort to using a credit card for unexpected expenses. Have an amount deducted from your paycheck each week or from your checking account each month, and watch your savings grow. Just resist the temptation to take the money out before you really need it.
7. Watch your credit closely
It's pretty easy to get a free credit score online, and keeping an eye on your credit can help you uncover issues that are negatively affecting your score, so you can contact the appropriate credit reporting agency and have mistakes on your credit report removed.
A good credit score can help you negotiate a lower interest rate if you choose to refinance or consolidate your debt. See if you qualify for a 0% APR credit card, to consolidate your balances interest-free for a time.
8. Get a side gig
Consolidation, negotiation, and automation can only go so far. At some point, you need to earn more money. We've already talked about renting space in your home — so how about getting some additional use from your car?
Uber and Lyft allow you to set your own schedule and earn money in your free time by getting others where they need to go. Each has its own advantages, and you can work for both if you're up for it.
Another idea if you have a car and want to earn money without driving people around is to sign up with DoorDash and get paid to deliver food.
If you don't drive much or you're too busy for a side gig, your car can do the work for you. Sign up for Turo and rent your car out to other people when it's not in use.
If you don't have a car or you'd prefer to work from home in your pajamas, learn about the best side hustles you can do from home. And if you want to get out of the house, earn some money, and interact with other people, these are the best side hustles that will get you out of the house.
Are you thinking about saving? Well, stop thinking about it!
Take the change out of your piggy bank and make it work for you.
Acorns is a financial wellness tool that automatically rounds up your card purchases to the nearest dollar and puts those savings into an investment account. It takes the worrying out of investing and matches you with one of five investment portfolios.
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