Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

SMART INSIGHTS FROM PROFESSIONAL ADVISERS

Never Get in Trouble with Credit Card Debt Again

Once you pay down this costly debt, you need to focus on keeping it in check. These three tips can help.

Thinkstock

Debt is an ugly four-letter word. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and generally includes mortgages, auto and student loans, credits cards and more. In fact, as of December 2015, an average American household was estimated to have $130,922 in debt, with $15,762 belonging to credit cards. Even more staggering is the total $733 billion of credit card debt owned by U.S. consumers coming into this year.

See Also: The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most

As credit card debt is considered to be a costly threat to your financial success (and one of the worst kinds of debt), it's often reviewed first when putting together a financial plan. One overlooked question, however, is what comes next. What if you stuck to your plan and got those pesky credit card balances down to zero? What steps can you take to ensure you don't rack up those bills again?

Below are my top three recommendations for keeping those credit card balances in check now that you've greatly reduced or eliminated your debt.

Cut Up Those Credit Cards

As cliché as that image has become, this is an essential first step. There are a lot of psychological factors that go into acquiring debt, and if you were prone to racking up debt in the past, chances are you are prone to do it again. Don't take the risk. Cut up your credit cards and rely on a bank debit card. This will ensure you only spend the money you actually have—not the funds your credit card company so generously lets you borrow.

Advertisement

Check Yourself and Remain Accountable

Accountability is key when it comes to keeping credit card balances in check. At a minimum, schedule an annual financial check-up to build in that accountability. This can be done in a variety of ways—be it with a family member, a spouse, financial planner or even YOURSELF. Knowing that this event is on the calendar will hopefully provide you with the needed motivation to stay on track.

Utilize Tech Tools

With the advent of technology, mobility and online resources, it's now possible to find solutions to virtually anything using tech tools. Why not leverage technology to get a comprehensive view of your financial well-being? You can do this with the help of a financial professional or even complimentary sites, such as mint.com. Use these tools to track your spending or set budgets, and make it a habit to log in once per week to ensure consistency and results.

While there are plenty of reasons people fall into debt, more often than not, debt begins to spiral out of control because people neglect their finances. They are afraid to look, and by the time they get the courage—it's too late. Be proactive, take control and use the necessary tools to stay on track of your debt. The less you owe, the more you own, and the better chances of a successful financial life.

See Also: 9 Secrets to Better Credit

Taylor Schulte, CFP® is founder and CEO of Define Financial, a San Diego-based fee-only firm. He is passionate about helping clients accumulate wealth and plan for retirement.

Comments are suppressed in compliance with industry guidelines. Our authors value your feedback. To share your thoughts on this column directly with the author, click here.

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.