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Racked up Credit Card Debt during Quarantine? Take these Steps to Take Back Control of Your Finances

The months-long coronavirus pandemic quarantine spelled disaster for many people’s finances.

Whether it’s because you’ve been shopping online more lately or just lost a portion of your income, you may be feeling anxious about being able to afford your credit card payments.

Don’t fret though. It’s not yet too late for you to reign in your spending and manage the debt you’ve racked up during the past couple of months.

Negotiate Interest Rates

The first thing you can do is get in touch with your credit provider and see if you can negotiate with them to lower or even haggle your interest rate down to 0%. Certified financial planner Lauren Anastacio suggests this move to people as banks and lenders would often provide you with repayment options that’ll help you financially.

Be warned that getting a more favorable rate isn’t assured. Credit providers would be more likely to give you leverage though if you have a track record of making payments on time in the past.

Enter a Hardship Program

Lemau Studio/Shutterstock: Major card issuers like American Express often offer their clients hardship programs

You can also choose to enter hardship programs, which are typically payment plans with lower fees.

However, Sara Rathner, a credit card expert, warns people that this should be a last resort. She shares that the programs can keep you afloat in the short term but can also backfire due to tough terms that come with the deal.

The Snowball Method

zimmytws/Shutterstock: Paying one debt at a tie has been proven to be more effective than making equal payments across several accounts

Meanwhile, there are numerous tried-and-tested strategies you can employ as you pay down your debt. There’s the snowball method, which is promoted by money expert Dave Ramsey.

In this method, you prioritize which debt to tackle first by picking the one with the smallest balance regardless of interest rates. Once you’ve locked down on the goal, you need to put all your resources into eliminating that debt while still making minimum payments on others.

The idea behind this is that seeing one debt off the list would motivate you even more to pay the rest off as you can already see the results of your efforts.

The Blizzard Method

Doubletree Studio/Shutterstock: Paying off high-interest debts would reduce the money you have to pay back in interest

Another strategy you should consider is the blizzard method. Recommended by Bone Fide Wealth president, Douglas Boneparth, this course of action is a mix between the snowball and another method called the avalanche.

It entails you paying off your smallest debt first to get that motivation high that the snowball method promises. And then, you switch to the avalanche method, which means focusing on the debt with the highest interest rate first.

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