Best Tricks to Stay Debt-Free for Life

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Being in debt can feel like something heavy is weighing you down. It keeps you from living your life and being your best self. If you’d like to be debt-free—and who wouldn’t?—here are the best ways to do it.

Transfer balances to zero-percent interest cards. If you’re carrying debt already, pay it off quickly by applying for a 0% APR card with the longest promotional period you can find. Some of these cards offer no interest payments for up to 21 months. The only catch is, there is often a balance transfer fee. This is usually 3-5% of the balance transferred, or a minimum amount such as $5 or $10. However, paying this fee is usually worth it, depending on what your interest rate is on the current card. And there are some no-fee balance transfer offers out there. It’s just a matter of looking for them, and having good enough credit to qualify for them.

Use no-interest credit card offers to make big purchases. If you have something like a move or a renovation on the horizon, a 0% APR can be just what you need, to make those larger purchases and pay them off over time. Many credit cards offer a promotional rate of 0% on purchases for six months, a year, or even longer. During this time, you’ll be able to make payments on your purchases at a rate that fits your budget, without paying any interest. Just be sure you make all your minimum payments on time, because if you miss one, you may lose out on the promotional rate.

Stick to a budget. This means knowing how much you can afford to spend, and staying within that comfort zone when you’re tempted to put something on your credit card that you really can’t afford. It’s easy to go overboard on spending, especially when you have a line of credit that allows you to buy things you may not necessarily be able to afford. Sit down and write out a budget, looking at what you need, what you want, and what you can afford. Remember to account for taxes, savings, and emergencies. One good way to keep on top of what you’re spending is to write everything down for a month or longer. Then you can look back and know what things you really must spend on, and where you might be able to cut your spending.

Use credit cards as a tool, not a crutch. A credit card can be a great financial tool, or something that gets you into trouble. Used correctly, credit cards give you rewards, financial flexibility, and the chance to earn a great credit score. Used recklessly, credit cards can get you into debt, saddle you with a low credit score, and cause you to spend time digging yourself out of a bad situation. The choice is yours.

Living a debt-free life is worth the planning and work that it requires. Following these steps is something you’ll never regret, so start today.

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