How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt: The Full Guide to Becoming Debt-Free

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt: The Full Guide to Becoming Debt-Free

Imagine your credit card statement landing on your doorstep each month with an ever-increasing balance. It's like watching a sinking ship take on more water. For many, this is an urgent wake-up call demanding action. The escalating figures on your monthly statement represent the shackles of credit card debt that grow tighter each month, necessitating immediate action. In this guide, we will navigate through steps to help you break free from this financial burden and steer your ship back to safer waters.‌‌

Step 1: Determine if You Require Specialist Debt Help

‌‌Before diving head first into this guide, let's pause to evaluate your situation. It's crucial to determine whether you're in a financial crisis that requires specialist advice.

  • Are you over a month behind on your rent or mortgage?
  • Are your energy bills piling up?
  • Have you missed a council tax payment?

‌‌If you answered 'yes' to any of these, we classify these as 'priority debts.' ‌‌Neglecting these could lead to serious implications such as losing your home or essential services. In such dire situations, generalised advice won't cut it. That's when it's time to consult a specialist debt advisor. ‌‌We recommend StepChange, a service that's not only free and impartial but also highly experienced in dealing with debt crises.‌‌

Step 2: Take Stock of Your Current Financial Situation

‌‌Before embarking on any debt-payoff journey, it's important to have a comprehensive understanding of your financial status. ‌‌Start by jotting down all your debts, along with their corresponding interest rates. This will serve as your roadmap, helping you prioritise which debts to tackle first.‌‌Struggling to find the specifics? Don't worry, we've got your back. If you can't locate your debt details, simply shoot us a message on WhatsApp. Let us know which credit card or loan you're dealing with, and we'll assist you in gathering all the necessary information, absolutely free of charge.‌‌

Step 3: Goal Setting and Commitment - The Key to Success

‌‌Setting the right goals can drastically change your journey to becoming debt-free. The process might feel overwhelming at first, but breaking it down into smaller, achievable targets can transform your experience. Goal setting turns the impossible into manageable steps, shifting you from feeling overwhelmed to being in control.

‌‌Imagine a simple shopping trip. You're on a mission to buy milk but get sidetracked by tempting treats placed strategically by the shop. You end up buying a basket full of items you didn't plan on getting. Life's distractions can easily derail your goals, and debt is no different.

Writing down your goals can double your chances of sticking to them. You can send us your 'implementation intention' via WhatsApp by clicking here. This act alone can significantly increase your likelihood of success.

Step 4: Choosing the Right Strategy to Pay Off Your Debt

Your repayment strategy can greatly impact how fast you become debt-free and how much money you save on interest. There are primarily two strategies for clearing debt: the Avalanche Method and the Snowball Method.‌

‌Avalanche Method:

The Avalanche Method suggests prioritising the repayment of debts with the highest interest rates first. You continue making minimum payments on all other debts and allocate any extra money towards the debt with the highest interest rate.‌‌The logic behind this is simple: higher interest rates cost you more money. By targeting higher interest debts first, you save more in the long term. ‌‌However, you may need strong discipline as it can take longer to see noticeable reductions in your debt balance. This approach leads to many people giving up because noticeable progress is too slow.‌‌

Snowball Method:

In contrast, the Snowball Method is all about momentum. You start by paying off the smallest debt first while making minimum payments on the rest. Once the smallest debt is paid off, you move on to the next smallest, and so on. ‌‌This approach provides quick wins, which can be incredibly motivating. You get to feel the progress you're making, which can be a psychological boost.‌‌

Still unsure which method suits you best? We've prepared a brief quiz to help you determine which strategy aligns best with your financial situation and temperament. Take the quiz below to find your tailored approach to becoming debt-free.

Quiz Embed

‌‌By understanding and selecting a suitable debt repayment method, you can strategically pay off your debt, saving money and increasing your chances of success.

Step 5: Keep Track of Your Progress

‌‌Paying off credit debt is a marathon, not a sprint and keeping track of your progress is crucial to completing the task at hand. That's why keeping an eye on how you're doing is really important. Monitoring your own progress can lift your spirits and help you stay on track. To make things easier for you, we've made a spreadsheet to help you with your progress.


What's in the Spreadsheet?

‌‌The spreadsheet will help you in the following ways:‌‌

  • Know which Debt to Pay First: It tells you which debt to focus on first, depending on whether you choose the Snowball or Avalanche way. This way, you know you're doing the right thing, leaving little room for doubt and error.
  • Timeline to Becoming Debt-Free: Our sheet also shows you when you'll fully pay off your credit card debt. Knowing there's an end point can give you the motivation and discipline to keep going!
  • Don’t Forget to Pay: We've put in a simple and fun tracker with emojis that you can use to mark off each payment you make. This way, you'll never forget to make a payment.

‌‌People usually pay money for similar tools (just have a quick look at Etsy), but we want to help you as much as we can, so we're giving it away for free.‌‌You can download your free copy of the sheet by clicking here.‌‌

Step 6: Familiarise Yourself with Budgeting

‌‌Let's face it, budgeting can feel like a chore, and it doesn't always work for everyone. To make things easier, we've put together a straightforward budget check-up. Fill it out, and you'll quickly see how much money you've got coming in and going out. This way, you'll know if you're in the black or if you're spending more than you earn.‌‌

To learn more about budgeting, we have a blogpost about the 50/30/20 budgeting method. This method involves allocating 50% of your income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings or paying off debt. It's an easy way to structure your spending.‌‌

If like most people, the thought of budgeting makes you yawn, we have a better solution for you. We built an app that helps you "find" money currently hiding in your existing spending habits... You know those daily Starbucks coffees or weekend takeaways when you can't be bothered to cook? ‌‌

A few tweaks there, and voilà! You'll find extra cash you didn't know you had, which you can use to pay off your debt even faster. So why not give it a go? You can give it a go here and "find" your first £100 hiding in plain site.‌‌

Step 7: Start building a Rainy Day Fund

‌‌Did you know that half of UK households will plunge into debt if slapped with an unexpected bill of just £300? That's why having a rainy day fund is crucial. Here's why it matters:‌‌

  1. Be Prepared for Surprises: Life's unpredictable. If a sudden cost comes your way, like a broken boiler or a vet bill, a rainy day fund ensures you won't have to borrow more money and go further into debt.
  2. Boost Your Self-Esteem: Setting aside some savings can give you a real confidence lift. It shows you have the determination and positive attitude to tackle whatever comes your way.
  3. Build Good Habits: The discipline needed to save money can also help you pay off your debts. You're training yourself to be more financially responsible, which is a win-win.

‌‌So, How Much Do I Need to Save?‌‌

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, start small. Even setting aside a little money every month can make a big difference. It's all about setting achievable goals and building from there. Small, regular contributions are much easier to manage. To make it even simpler, consider automating your savings—something we'll be providing guidance on in the future.‌‌ For now, aim for at least £300 in your rainy day fund while you're paying off debt. That will put you ahead of 50% of UK households. Then, you can set a new, higher target for yourself.‌‌

Are you interested in learning more about Rainy Day Funds? We've got a whole article devoted to building your rainy day fund. Check it out here!‌‌‌‌

Fancy a little nudge to keep your rainy day fund growing? How about a friendly WhatsApp message every week? It's like a virtual high-five for your savings game! You can sign up here to make it happen!‌‌

Step 8: Reduce the amount of interest that you pay.

‌‌‌‌Let's be honest, nobody likes paying interest—it's like throwing money away! But guess what? There are clever ways to slash, and sometimes even erase, the interest you're paying, making your debt-free journey faster and smoother. Let's dive into two game-changing methods: Consolidation Loans and 0% Balance Transfers.‌‌

0% Balance Transfer Cards: The Interest-Free Solution

‌‌If your debts are mainly on credit cards, a 0% balance transfer card could be your best friend. It lets you shift your high-interest balance to a card that charges 0% interest for a set period. Sounds awesome, right? But hold on, there's a catch. These 0% periods don't last forever, so you need to be super disciplined. Make a plan to either clear your balance within that time or get ready to switch again before the interest kicks back in.‌‌

Consolidation Loans: One Payment, Less Hassle

‌‌Consolidation loans can be another solution in your journey to becoming debt free. It works by taking out one personal loan to pay off all your existing debts. You're left with just one monthly payment to worry about. Though these loans aren't interest-free, they usually offer a lower rate than what you're currently paying. So you save money and simplify your life.‌‌Ultimately, if you're smart about it, you could shave months or even years off your debt repayment timeline with these techniques. So why wait? Start reducing that pesky interest today!‌‌If you have any questions about Consolidation Loans or Balance Transfer Cards, you can message us on WhatsApp.‌‌

Step 9: Understanding Your Money Triggers

‌‌Let's face it: we all have our weak moments that lead us down the spending rabbit hole. Have you ever found yourself splurging on takeaways or retail therapy? Perhaps especially so when you're feeling stressed or in a low mood? If that's a yes, you're not alone! ‌‌Money management is often compared to weight loss; think of emotional spending as the financial version of comfort eating.‌‌

Understands your Money Triggers

‌‌When we're feeling down, we often make choices that feel good in the moment but can hurt us in the long run. The trick is to catch yourself before you spiral.

Think of it as a chain: ‌‌

Trigger ➡️ Thought ➡️ Action ➡️ Consequence. ‌‌

Understanding your triggers helps you break this chain before it leads to regrettable spending.

The Thoughtful Spending Cycle

Instead of viewing spending as a 'right' or a 'treat,' consider creating your own set of financial rules that are tailored to you. By understanding your habits and triggers, you can make rules that actually stick. This way, when you're tempted to buy that new phone on credit, you'll think twice!‌‌

The Swipe Right Money App

‌‌We've created a fun tool to help you get even more in tune with your spending. It's like Tinder but for your bank transactions. Swipe right on the transactions that were well-thought-out, and left on the ones you regret. It's a game-changer in helping you reflect on your spending choices.‌‌Ready to become a mindful spender?

You can use the tool for free here!‌‌

Step 10: When You're in a Hole, Stop Digging

‌‌You've heard the saying, "When you're in a hole, stop digging," right? Well, it's time to take those words to heart. If you're still using credit, you're effectively digging yourself deeper into debt. Consider cutting that credit card dependence and stick to using just your debit card until you're debt-free.‌‌

The Must-Not-Do List


  • No Buy Now, Pay Later: That option at checkout is a trap. Delete your accounts, don't even think about it.
  • No Credit Card Use: Try to avoid using your credit cards. If you lack discipline, to stop using them, cut up your cards or freeze them in a block of ice. Do whatever it takes to keep that plastic far away from you.


Beware of Frictionless Transactions

Saved your card details in an online wallet or Apple Pay? That's a slippery slope. Retailers love this because it removes the friction from the buying process, resulting in more mindless spending. Delete all your digital credit cards to reduce the likelihood of impulse purchases.


Back to Basics: Cash is King

‌‌Here's a hack: pay with cash whenever you can. It adds an extra layer of friction between you and mindless spending. No cash? No impulse buy. It's that simple.

Bonus Step: Join Our Community Challenges

‌‌Looking for that extra nudge to keep you on track? Join one of our community challenges and accelerate your journey to debt-freedom! ‌‌Each month, we roll out a new challenge designed to keep you accountable and help you pay off credit card debt. It's not just about you; it's about lifting each other up and staying accountable.

Share your progress, dish out some encouragement, and celebrate those small wins together.‌‌Do you feel like a community and support network will be helpful to you? If the answer is yes, you can join the waitlist for our next spending challenge. ‌‌Clicking this link will take you straight to WhatsApp, where you can shoot us a preloaded message and get added to next month's waitlist.‌‌

Your Journey Starts Now

‌‌Well done on powering through the guide. If it feels a bit overwhelming, it's normal. We tried to jam-pack it with tips, tools, and tricks to get you on the path to a debt-free life.

Remember, it's not about perfection, but progress. Every little action counts. So why wait? Your journey towards taking back control of your money and living a debt-free life starts now. Let's crush those debts and kickstart a future full of possibilities. Perhaps we'll one day meet during our monthly challenges. Good luck!‌‌‌‌