Get rid of credit card debt, improve your financial future

  • Published
  • By Maj. Neal Monroe Jr.
  • 71st Comptroller Squadron
Some average Americans dream of one day reaching financial freedom, but many of them it's just that - a dream. Only the lucky or well disciplined ones actually obtain the financial freedom they've dreamed of for so long. However, for the not so lucky or disciplined ones their dream can become a nightmare.

According to a report on, the average American has 2.7 bank credit cards, 3.8 retail credit cards and 1.1 debit cards for a total of 7.6 cards per cardholder. If that's not alarming enough, MSN Money reported for every $1 these same cardholders earn, $1.22 is spent. Yep, that means we're spending more money than we're earning. To add insult to injury, many Americans have fallen into the credit card trap and have begun using credit cards to supplement their household income. This is ruins any chance for financial freedom. I would like to suggest some ideas to help reduce your financial burden and get you on your way to the financial freedom you deserve. While I cannot provide any guarantees, I can assure you that if you use the tips below, you will regain control of your financial destiny.

1. Rid yourself of temptation. To reduce your credit card spending, cut up all retail cards and all but one major credit card. Keep the card that has the best terms (lowest fixed interest rate). By reducing your access to credit cards, it creates a barrier preventing you from using it out of convenience. Remember this is preventing you from spending money you don't have.

2. Create a budget and stick to it. Disciplined spending is the foundation for reaching your financial goals. Therefore, it's imperative you know how much money is available to begin reducing your overall debt. Start by writing down all of your expenses. Begin with your mandatory bills (mortgage/rent, utilities, etc.), but don't forget to include the "luxury or social" expenses. After you've calculated your necessary expenses and compared it to your income, you can easily see what's available to start reducing your debt.

3. Pay yourself and establish an emergency fund. You must begin to save immediately. Once you've figured how much you can afford to save, set up an allotment to a savings account in a hometown bank. If the funds aren't readily available, it deters you from spending unless absolutely necessary.

4. Pay off high interest debt first. After your budget has been created and you've listed all of your debts, you'll need to begin paying more toward your high interest credit first. The more you pay, the sooner you will pay them off. Continue to pay at least the minimum due on all of your other debt, and you will do this until you've paid them all off. When you finish your plan, call each creditor and request an interest rate reduction. You'll be surprised, but most companies will reduce them if you've been consistently making your payments on time.

5. Seek help. When we get sick, we go to the doctor. When our car won't start, we take it to the mechanic. If your finances are suffering, seek help. The Airman & Family Readiness Center has certified counselors on staff ready and willing to help get your finances in order. Their goal is to help us and ensure our readiness is in order, so we can support the Air Force mission.

Most Americans will admit they live beyond their means, and unfortunately, it has become an acceptable way of life. The stress of being financially insecure is negatively impacting our physical and mental health. However, we have the power to take back control. The sooner you begin following these tips, the sooner you'll be on the road to reaching your financial freedom.