Well-intentioned people end up in credit card debt all the time. In some situations, it might not even be your fault–especially if you ended up owing money because of an unexpected illness or period of unemployment. Unfortunately, the hard truth you have to face is that your debt isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the longer you stay under the thumb of your credit card company, the more you are going to owe because of astronomical interest rates. It’s in your best interest to do everything you can to pay off your credit cards ASAP, and sometimes that quest can call for desperate measures. Here are a few extreme steps you can take toward erasing your credit card debt and getting back on top of your finances.
- Use Your Savings Account – You may be proud of the nest egg you have built for yourself to use in case of emergencies, but sometimes it’s more worth it to get out of debt than it is to have a savings account. To repay your debts, consider cashing out your savings account (except for about $1000) and making a lump sum payment to your credit card with the highest interest rate. Once you are out of debt, you can start to rebuild your emergency fund.
- Consult Your Family and Friends – No one likes to borrow money from their friends and family, but you know they will be happy to help you out if your need is desperate. Hopefully you can negotiate a deal to pay back your loved one with no interest, which could save you thousands over time depending on how deep your debt. Just make sure you hold up your end of the bargain and don’t make your friend or relative regret helping you out.
- Sell Your Possessions – If you are heavily in debt but have recently decided to buy an expensive car, hot tub, or timeshare, then you might have a problem with your priorities. No one wants to give up the luxuries in life, but pinching pennies has to be part of your repayment plan if you ever want to get out of the credit trap. Sell the possessions that are least necessary now, and you may be able to actually afford them outright someday.
- Borrow Against Your Life Insurance – It’s risky to tap into your life insurance policy because it leaves your family in financial danger if you were to die. On the other hand, if you have a pile of debt, your spouse is going to be responsible for paying it back whether you are alive or not. The interest rate you can get from your life insurance provider is often well below market rates, and as long as you pay back the loan, your family will still be protected by the policy when they finally do need to cash it in someday.
- Get a Loan – It might sound crazy to consider paying off one debt by taking out another one, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get a much better interest rate from a lender than the one that your credit card company is charging you. Consider a personal loan if you happen to qualify–unfortunately, most banks will take your overall debt into consideration when granting lending applications–or think about taking out a home equity loan if it’s been a while since you bought your house. As long as you are trading a high-interest debt for a low-interest debt, you should be in a better position to pay it back over time.
- Ask Your Creditors for Help – Although many consumers try to do everything they can to hide their financial problems from the credit card company, there’s actually a good chance your creditor may be able to help. Card issuers know that if you get too far into debt, you may have no choice but to file bankruptcy (in which case they will probably never see any of the money you owe), so they will often be willing to help you figure out a manageable payment plan to avoid a situation that won’t turn out well for you or for them.
It can be scary to have to consider extreme measures for getting out of debt, but almost anything is better than defaulting on your contract and/or needing to declare bankruptcy. Do everything you can to find a way to pay off your credit cards, and you will be amazed how free you feel once you are finally able to live your life without that debt looming over you.