You can easily save thousands of dollars a year with very little effort by following even a few of the cost-saving measures. The more cost-saving measures you adopt, the more money you'll save. Here are a few ways to save money on your debt:
- If you're paying more than 15% interest on your credit card, you're paying too much. With the prime interest rate in the single digits, lenders that charge 15% to 21% interest or more on credit card balances are gouging you. With good credit, you should be able to find a credit card rate for between 12% and 15%. For a list of the lowest credit card rates, visit bankrate.com. Potential Money Savings: $450-1000/yr.
- If you can obtain a lower interest credit card, you can usually use cash advances to pay off the balance on your other credit cards and transfer this debt to the lower rate card. Some cards charge a higher fee for transferred balances, so be sure to read the small print before applying, and make sure you can pay it off or transfer your balance again to another card before the introductory period rate expires. Potential Money Savings: $200-500/yr. (more if you have a lot of credit card debt at high interest rates).
- Consider using part of your savings to pay off consumer debt, if you can do so without using all of your available cash. With banks paying less than 1% on passbook savings, and credit card debt carrying 10% to 21% interest charges, you could come out way ahead. Be careful to leave yourself enough savings or borrowing power to fall back on in case of an emergency. Potential Money Savings: $200-500/yr.
- If you don't have enough savings to pay off your consumer debt, consider a debt consolidation loan. Interest rates on loans are much lower than most credit cards, so you win in two ways: (1) you slash your interest costs, say from 19% on the credit card to 6-10% on a traditional loan, and (2) you can go from making many monthly payments to just a single loan payment. If your credit isn't the best, a site like CreditLoan can help you get a loan. Potential Money Savings: $1,000 - $2000/ yr.
- Look for no-fee credit cards (be sure to consider all the other factors such as grace period, interest rate, etc., as well). Even if you are charged an annual fee, you can may be able to get the fee waived by calling your bank and asking them to remove it. Potential Money Savings: $25-50/yr.
- Whenever possible, avoid finance charges on credit cards, especially cards with high interest rates. If you pay down your credit card balance by just $500 you can save $100 a year in interest charges. Potential Money Savings: $100-1,000/yr.
- If you have a balance on more than one credit card, use this money-saving strategy, which I call the credit crunch: Pay the most you can afford each month on the card with the highest interest rate, and make the minimum payment on the others. Once the card with the highest interest rate is paid off, begin paying as much as possible each month on the card with the next highest interest rate, and so on. Potential Money Savings: varies