by Mike Aux-Tinee… How are you doing today? I hope you were able to sleep after generating your income and expense sheet. I was surprised to see what I was spending money on every month! I knew what some of my expenses were, such as my car payment and school loans. I did not realize what else I was spending money on. It was a shock to see it on paper. Let’s begin by getting your finances in shape. I will suggest some options to paying off your credit card balances, reduce monthly spending and using cash for purchases. To be successful, you will need to complete this process. It will be very easy to give up and quit. There are going to be many obstacles that could derail your efforts. It is important to keep your goals and objectives front and center. Also, let’s keep to paper and pencil. It is too easy to turn off your computer, play a video game or jump to the internet. None of these things will solve the problem. Always remember you new mantra, “I got me into this and I will get me out of this.” Here are some suggestions for paying down and off your credit cards: 1. Focus on the way you think about things and the reasons you go shopping. The things you buy are just that, things. You should not go to the mall to shop as a form of entertainment or to make you happy. You should shop to purchase something you need. Also, calculate how many hours you worked to purchase this item. Once you start looking at things in this way, you may find that you did not need the item and will be less likely to make spontaneous purchases. 2. Start making purchases with cash. Begin by making small purchases such as lunch, gas for the car or other purchases under twenty dollars. Why twenty dollars? When I was going through this process, it was the small purchases that were adding to my monthly credit card balances. Once I realized what I was doing, it became easier for me to make more purchases with cash. 3. Once you are making more purchases with cash, the next step is to completely stop using the credit cards. You will not get out from under your debt if you continue to use the credit cards. The good place to for information is: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/credit-cards/balance-debt-payoff-calculator.aspx The calculator will assist you in determining how long it will take to pay off the current balance and the interest charges. When you checked the numbers, were you surprised at the amount of interest you will pay? Now, imagine what you could do with the money you are paying in interest. 4. I want you to pay more than the minimum payment. If you pay the minimum amount every month, you will not pay off the balance any time soon. Work with the calculator. A good goal would be to pay five to ten percent of the outstanding balance every month. By paying the more than required, you will start to see your balances drop very quickly and that is the goal. I hope my suggestions have been helpful and you work to eliminate your debt. As someone who was in this position, it was a relief to open the mail box and see just the weekly advertisements. Now, when I want something, I just drag my feet until it is no longer in the store. Peace Dudes!