Blog | Personal Finance

How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt in 8 Steps

There is a way to get out of the red, and it’s within your reach

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Summary

  • Not all debt is bad; and good debt can actually help you become financially free

  • Climbing out of bad debt into financial freedom is possible, but requires planning and discipline

  • Following these 8 steps is guaranteed to get you out of bad debt


Is there anything worse than the dreaded feeling of your monthly credit card statement’s arrival? Tearing open that envelope (or opening the email) with one eye closed, terrified of the number in the “amount due” section—you know you spent the money, but it’s no less surprising each month when you see it displayed in black and white.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone—as of this year, the average individual’s credit card debt in 2023 is $6,469. And to top things off, more than half of Americans don't pay their credit card balance in full every month, which means they are also paying interest fees. No wonder that balance never seems to diminish!

So what are you to do to avoid debt or climb out of debt that’s already engulfing you? Let’s take these issues one by one, so that you can finally become financially free.

How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt in 8 Steps

Step #1) Stop Accumulating Credit Card Debt

It’s true, the rich love their credit cards, and they know how to use them to their advantage. They don’t cut up their credit cards, or put them in the freezer. Instead, the rich use them as a convenience, as a record-keeping tool, and as a way to verify to other creditors her ability to be financially responsible.

Take this pledge and repeat after me: From this day forward, I will not accumulate additional credit card debt. If I charge an item to my credit card, then I will pay off that amount when the statement arrives.

Remember, there is good debt and bad debt. Good debt is debt you use to acquire assets. Bad debt keeps you trapped, pulling you back instead of moving you ahead. In most cases credit card debt is bad debt.

So, the first thing you need to do to get out of credit card debt is to stop digging yourself a deeper debt hole. Recite the pledge stated above every time you take out your credit card intending to use it. If you know you won’t be able to make the payment on next month’s statement in full, don’t use it!

Action step: Vow to not incur any additional bad debt

Step #2) List Your Consumer (Bad) Debts

At one point, Robert Kiyosaki had over $1 million in debt that needed to be paid off. Things were so bad, he and Kim Kiyosaki were living in a car for a short time trying to figure out how to dig themselves out of the hole. Together, they discovered a system that allowed them to pay off all of their debt in less than 10 years. This included all debt from credit cards to car loans and home mortgages.

The second step they took to get out of their “bad” debts, including credit card debt, was to list all of their debts.

This is often the hardest part of the entire process, especially when you have a spouse or partner. It’s difficult to completely open up about your spending habits. It’s made more complex when you know your spending habits adversely affect someone you love.

Though this post is meant to specifically help you get out of credit card debt, you can also use this process to pay off all your bad consumer debt.

While you're making your list, feel free to include any additional debt you (and your partner) may have including car loans, your mortgage and even debt associated with your business.

So, open up a spreadsheet on your computer or grab a pencil and a lined piece of paper, then list out all of your debts.

Action step: List all your outstanding debts

Step #3) List the Amount Owed on Each Credit Card and Personal Debt

Step three requires you to list the following for every debt:

  1. Total amount owed
  2. Minimum monthly payment
  3. Number of months

Simply list the number associated with each debt into its respective column.

To find the number of months, or Month Number, divide the total amount owed by the minimum payment. This will tell you how long it will take you to pay off that debt if you only make the minimum payments.

Action step: Add the total amount owed, the minimum monthly payment, and figure out how many months it will take you to pay off your debt paying the monthly minimum

Step #4) Prioritize Your Credit Card Debt

Now that you have all your debts listed (and you have listed them all , right?) and your entire financial debt situation in front of you, it’s time to prioritize them.

First, place a “1” next to the debt with the lowest Month Number, a “2” next to the second lowest Month Number and continue up to the highest Month Number is accounted for.

You may have seen other credit card debt reduction programs listing your debts by the interest rate. So, if credit card #1 has an interest rate of 20% and credit card #2 has an interest rate of 18%, the debt reduction program would have you pay off credit card #1, first.

The reason we propose you pay off the credit card debt with the lowest Month Number is because we have found the benefit of getting “wins” incredibly beneficial to your financial and emotional health. Paying off your debts as listed by your Month Number not only helps you eliminate debt quickly but also boosts your enthusiasm towards eliminating your credit card debt.

Action step: Prioritize your debts from the lowest to highest Month Number

Step #5) Find Additional Income

It’s time for a little pep talk.

If you are serious about getting out of credit card debt and — more importantly, becoming financially free—then generating extra income is key.

When Robert and Kim began digging their way out of the million-dollar hole, they knew it would require a different approach.They knew they could no longer rely solely on the income from a 40-hour-a-week job to get out of their situation. The numbers simply didn’t add up.

After a meeting Robert had with his rich dad, he knew it was time to increase their financial education by creating assets. Every waking moment was spent building their S-quadrant businesses.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should quit your day job to build the business you’ve always dreamed of. Instead, what this means is that in order to get out of credit card debt, you will need to find an additional $150 to $200 a month to put towards your debt.

If you are serious about getting out of credit card debt, you need to take this step seriously.

So, step 5 requires you to list the various ways you can make some additional money.

Action step: Find a way to earn an extra $150-$200 a month

Step #6) Pay Off the Lowest Month Number Debt

In step three, you listed the minimum amount you owe next to each credit card debt in your spreadsheet.

Now, take the extra money from your side-job(s) listed in step five and add the extra money into your minimum monthly payment.

For example, if your minimum monthly payment for the credit card with a Month Number of 1 is $35, and you know you can earn an extra $200 per month mowing lawns in your neighborhood, then you would pay a total of $235 every month on your Month Number 1 credit card.

Until your Month Number 1 credit card is paid off, continue to put any extra money you receive towards that debt.

Action step: Focus on paying off the debt with the lowest Month Number while paying the minimum on all other debts

Step #7) Celebrate!

It’s going to take some time. This is to be expected. But eventually you will have your #1 ranked credit card debt paid off.

Celebrate it!

This is a big deal. Like we always say at Rich Dad, celebrate all wins.

This is no different.

You have sacrificed in ways that no one will ever understand.

Pick something you enjoy doing, guilt free.

Take your spouse out for a nice dinner and a movie. Buy the pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. But pay for it in cash!

Remember step #1, just because you paid off this one credit card doesn’t mean your work is done.

This is one small step on a longer journey. Though it should be celebrated, make sure it’s within reason and it’s something you and your partner agree upon.

Action step: When you get a debt paid off in full, celebrate!

Step #8) Continue to Pay Off Your Other Credit Card Debts

Now that you have your credit card debt paid off with the lowest Month Number, move the total amount you were paying for that credit card (the minimum payment for credit card Month Number 1 and the additional $150-$200)and move it to credit card Month Number 2.

Again, let’s reference the situation from above. If you are paying $25 a month towards the Month Number 2 credit card, you will add the minimum payment you were paying towards your Month Number 1 credit card ($35) and the $200 you are making mowing lawns to your current minimum monthly payment of $25 for the Month Number 2 credit card, totaling a new monthly payment of $260.

Continue to pay the minimum monthly payments for Month Number 3 credit card on up until you get your Month Number 2 credit card paid off in full.

When Month Number 2 credit card is paid off in full, remember to celebrate.

You will be amazed at how quickly your debt vanishes and how much your entire attitude towards life improves.

Action step: Continue steps 4-8 until you are debt free

Summary: How to get out of credit card debt:

  1. Stop accumulating “bad” credit card debt
  2. List all of your debts
  3. Next to each debt list:
    1. The total amount owed on the debt
    2. The minimum monthly payment
    3. Number of months to pay off the debt (total amount owed / minimum monthly payment) [a.k.a. the Month Number]
  4. Prioritize your debts from the lowest to highest Month Number
  5. Find a way to earn an extra $150-$200 a month
  6. Focus on paying off the debt with the lowest Month Number while paying the minimum on all other debts
  7. When you get a debt paid off in full, celebrate!
  8. Continue steps 4-8 until you are debt free

Bookmark this post and look at it as often as you need. If you feel buried under mountains of debt, take a deep breath. It doesn’t have to define you any longer. You can still turn this situation around.

Original publish date: September 24, 2009

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