3 Ways to Pay Off Credit Card Debt on an Entry-Level Salary

by Maurie Backman | Nov. 22, 2019

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It’s tough, but it can be done. 

Credit card debt is troubling for a couple of reasons.

First, it can cost you money. Anytime you don't pay off a credit card balance in full, you start paying interest on the amount you owe.

Finger ringing doorbell.

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Second, having too much credit card debt can bring down your credit score. Once that happens, it becomes harder to get approved for a new loan, credit card, or lease. 

But what if you're stuck with credit card debt and don't have much income to throw at it? If you're earning an entry-level salary, that could be the case. 

Thankfully, there's hope in that scenario. Here's how to tackle it. 

1. Get on a tight budget

When money is limited, squeezing out cash to pay off debt may seem impossible. But if you're willing to stick to a very strict budget, you may be surprised at how much money you can eke out each month to apply to your debt. 

First, make sure to set up an actual budget if you don't already have one in place. List your recurring monthly expenses, account for expenses that don't pop up monthly (like quarterly or annual bills), and figure out how much your essential bills (things like rent, transportation, and electricity) cost you.

From there, limit your spending in non-essential categories like restaurant meals, rideshares, streaming services, and other types of entertainment. If you live very frugally for a while, you may manage to knock out your debt, after which you'll have the option to reintroduce some of those luxuries. 

2. Secure a side job

You may not be able (or have the guts) to march into your boss's office and demand a raise at your regular job. But you can boost your earnings by getting a side job. That gig can be anything you'd like it to be -- you can walk dogs during your spare time, teach a musical instrument, wait tables, design websites, contribute to blogs, or revert to your high school years by babysitting.

The choices are virtually endless, but the beauty of that side job is that you'll have the option to take all of your earnings from it (minus taxes, of course) and use them to pay off your debt. 

3. Make that debt cheaper to pay off

When you only have so much money to allot for chipping away at your credit card debt, it pays to make that debt less expensive. That's where a balance transfer card can come in handy. A balance transfer lets you move existing balances onto a single credit card with a lower interest rate. The result is that it doesn't cost as much to pay off what you owe. And it can help you avoid the hassle of having to make different credit card payments at different times. 

Carrying credit card debt is never fun, and when you’re on an entry-level salary, paying it off can seem impossible. But don’t despair -- if you keep your spending to a minimum, get a second job (ideally, one you enjoy), and explore your options for making your debt easier to pay off, you may find that it goes away sooner than expected. 

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