By Ms. Mary Ann Davis (IMCOM)
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — If one of your New Year’s resolutions is paying off your credit card debt, let the experts at the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Army Community Service Financial Readiness Office help.
People tend to rack up credit card charges during the holidays, which can take a long time to pay back — especially if card interest accrues at a high rate, said Nyesha Burton, Financial Readiness specialist and accredited financial counselor.
“It could take people months or even the entire next year to get holiday debts knocked out. That is in addition to regular financial obligations,” she said. “Can you imagine paying for last year’s Christmas presents until Christmas this year?”
Burton said the first strategy is to prioritize. People can begin by sitting down and ranking all their debts.
“This can be best accomplished by looking at your balances for each bill. Find the debt with the lowest balance and tackle that first by aggressively paying it, while still paying the minimum payment on other debts,” she explained. “Then, move on to the next smallest debt and tackle it the same way you tackled the first debt. This is done until all your debts are paid off. You may have heard of this approach as “‘The Snowball Method.'”
Paying off debts one by one is a good way to get a sense of immediate gratification, while not overwhelming you back account, Burton said. But for those who are hard chargers and want to pay debts down even faster, they can pay their balances off at one time and be done with it. It may be difficult, but it can be done.
Additionally, tax season is coming, which may yield refunds for some people or they may receive a bonus during the year. Make a plan to apply that extra money to debts. Whether you pay off debts one at a time or all at once, paying off debts may give people a sense of financial freedom, she said.
The ACS Financial Readiness Office has several classes to help you become more fiscally responsible.
A good way to get ahead of the holidays next year is to have a healthy savings plan, Burton said.
“Creating and contributing to a holiday fund now will help you save and avoid using high interest credit cards next year, plus it will help you create a good habit that can be passed down from you to your family, co-workers, employees,” she said. “Make a New Year’s resolution to help yourself by having a better financial life through better planning, saving and spending.”
For more information or to sign up for a class, contact the ACS Financial Readiness Office at DSN 476-2650, CIV 09622-83-2650; Hohenfels office, DSN 466-4680, CIV 09472-83-4860; Garmisch office, DSN 440-3777, CIV 08821-750-3777.