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Tips and tricks to help ease your credit card debt

If you’re not managing to sort your debt out on your own, it may be time to get professional help

Pay more than the minimum required monthly instalment to help decrease the amount of interest you will pay back, says the DCGSA.
Pay more than the minimum required monthly instalment to help decrease the amount of interest you will pay back, says the DCGSA.
Image: Supplied/DCGSA

The average credit card limit in SA is about R35,000, and the average outstanding balance on the 7-million credit cards held by South Africans increased by 1% in 2020, to about R18,800. 

Credit card debt can seem like a huge obstacle to overcome, especially in this tough financial time. 

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored
Aldous Huxley

Acknowledge your situation so you can rectify it before it is too late.

The first step is to draw at least three months’ credit card statements and go through them. Look at your spending and assess the waste. What is necessary, but could be purchased with cash? What was your credit card used for that was unnecessary? You have to be hard on yourself with this: don’t make excuses.

Now that you know what your credit card balances are, and where you went wrong, it’s time to fix it.

A few tips and tricks that can help

Write down a list of things you will allow yourself to buy on your credit card will help. On a piece of paper, write down the balance you owe on your credit card and the list of things you will allow yourself to use the credit card for. Now wrap it around your credit card and put your wrapped card back into your wallet. Every time you want to use it your note should deter you from wasteful spending. 

You can also write down your triggers, such as stores or certain friends or family you tend to spend more money around. Writing it down will help you identify the triggers while they are happening. If you’re always shopping online for unnecessary items delete the app. Or maybe the specials are your trigger.

For example, if you have a shoe weakness, gather all your shoes put them in one place, look at them and tell yourself, I have enough for now. They are not a necessity and I will not buy more. Ask yourself, do I want another pair of shoes, or do I want to get rid of my credit card debt? You can also research other ideas. 

Pay more than the minimum required monthly instalment to help decrease the amount of interest you will pay back. Check with your bank whether there are any better deals you can get such as a 60-day interest-free credit card facility or a reduced interest rate. We often just accept what’s given to us and don’t ask for better deals.

You may also be using credit cards to pay other debts: this will cause a “debt snowball” and you are just prolonging your situation, not fixing it.

If you’re not managing to sort your debt out on your own, it may be time to get professional help. Call 086-100-1047 or email help@dcgsa.co.za. Assessments are obligation-free and confidential.

This article was paid for the DCGSA.

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