28% of Consumers Say Paying Off Credit Card Debt Is a Top Goal. Here's How to Do It

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  • Lingering credit card debt can end up costing you more money.
  • The right strategy could be your ticket to shedding that debt sooner.
  • You can save on interest with a balance transfer card, and free up money by cutting non-essential spending and getting a side hustle.

It's a goal worth working toward.

If you're sitting on a heaping pile of credit card debt right now, you're definitely not alone. A lot of people were forced to charge expenses on their credit cards and carry balances forward this year due to inflation. And also, now that the holiday season is winding down, you may be sitting on a larger credit card balance due to having charged things like gifts and travel costs.

But no matter why you have credit card debt, your best bet is to get rid of it as quickly as you can. Credit card interest can compound on a daily basis. What this means is that for every extra day you carry a balance forward, it costs you more money.

In a recent Principal survey, 28% of respondents listed paying off credit card debt as a big goal. If you feel the same, here are some key steps to take.

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1. Give yourself a break from accruing interest

The reason credit card debt has a tendency to spiral is that credit cards often charge high rates of interest to begin with, and then, as mentioned earlier, compound that interest daily. And so a good way to get out of credit card debt is to get a break from paying interest for a period of time.

That's more than possible if you qualify for a balance transfer offer with a 0% introductory interest rate attached to it. Now that 0% rate won't last forever. But it might last 12 months, 15 months, or even 18 months, depending on the offer you're able to snag. And not racking up more interest for many months could make it possible to get ahead of your debt.

2. Free up money for debt payoff purposes

If you spend every dollar in your paycheck month after month, paying off debt will be a huge challenge. That's why you'll need to commit to cutting back on spending if you're eager to shed your credit card debt quickly.

Take a look at the things you spend money on regularly. Is it possible to eliminate one or two bills (even on a temporary basis) without too negatively impacting your life?

Maybe the idea of skipping takeout meals is enough to make you want to cry. But if that's something you currently pay for three times a week, cut down to once a week. Then, take the money you're saving and use it to pay down your credit card balance.

3. Get a side hustle

These days, a lot of people are spending minimally on non-essential expenses because inflation is causing their basic bills to soar. If that's the case, then cutting your spending may not be enough to make headway on your credit card debt. You may need to boost your income with a side hustle and use your earnings to dig out of that hole.

The good news is that side gigs are fairly easy to come by these days, so think about what your schedule allows for and find a job that matches up. If you need the flexibility to set your own hours, driving for a ride-hailing service might work. And if you need a side gig you can do from home, look into online jobs, whether it's social media marketing, remote tutoring, or content editing. You may even be able to land a medical billing gig you can do from your living room.

Credit card debt can be a drag, no matter how much or how little of it you have. Follow these tips to get out of debt -- and you'll have one fewer nagging expense to worry about.

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