If you can afford to do so, stop using your credit cards.

This may not be possible for everyone. After all, you still have to put food on the table and pay your bills. If you can’t cut your credit card use altogether, take a look at your budget and consider using your debit card instead whenever possible.

Additionally, consider at least one of the following options that might help you take control of your debt.

Pay more than the minimum
Sometimes it can be tough to pay the minimum amounts due on your credit cards every month. But if you find yourself in a position to pay a little extra and do so as often as you can, it can go a long way toward reducing your overall debt.

Here’s how it works: If you’re able to pay more than the minimum, whatever extra you can afford may be applied toward the principal balance rather than toward accrued interest. This means that you’re working to reduce the amount due, which may help you pay it off faster.

When it comes to applying extra funds to combat your debt, you often hear of two popular strategies: the snowball method and the avalanche method.

Snowball method — You make your minimum payments on all of your credit cards. Then, you focus all of your extra money on paying off the card with the smallest balance. Once you pay that card off, you take the money you were paying for that card and put it toward the card with the next smallest balance. This strategy is good for people who need a little extra motivation to stay focused.

Avalanche method — You still make your minimum payments on all of your credit cards, but with one major difference. You use the extra cash to pay off the card with the highest interest rate. Once that card is paid off, you apply your money toward the card with the next highest interest rate. This strategy is good for people who want to save more money on interest charges.

Set up a Direct Debit
A simple step that can make a big difference is opting to pay your credit card bills by Direct Debit.
Setting up a Direct Debit may help safeguard against late payments, which typically trigger costly fees getting added to your balance. If you opt for Direct Debit to help avoid those fees, make sure your bank balance can cover your payment by the due date.

Using Direct Debits can also aid in building healthy financial habits by helping you pay your credit card bills with minimal effort.

Consolidate credit card debt
If you don’t want the hassle of managing multiple credit card payments each month, you could look into consolidating your debt into one monthly payment. There are various options for consolidating debt, but depending on your situation, you may want to do this with either a balance transfer credit card or with a personal loan. Thamesbank Credit Union may help you here .

Balance transfer card
If you choose a balance transfer card, look for one that offers an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers and charges a low balance transfer fee. But be careful, because after the introductory period ends, your interest rate could skyrocket. For that reason, this strategy makes more sense for someone who plans to pay off their credit card debt within the introductory period. So if you choose this method of paying down your debt, make sure you understand what that period is and when it expires, and limit use of the card to the balance transfer, avoiding any purchases with the card.

Depending on whether you’re approved and the new credit limit you might receive, you may be able to pay off your existing credit cards with a balance transfer card. But keep in mind that balance transfer cards often come with their own restrictions and fees, so make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully.

Remember that you ultimately still owe the money. But the benefit is that you’re likely reducing the number of monthly payments and potentially lowering your interest rate, which may help you tackle your debt in a more manageable way.

Next steps:

Now that you’ve got your finances sorted, it may be a good time to build an emergency savings account that you can tap into the next time something comes up, so that you won’t fall back into debt. You can start by setting aside a small amount every month and watch it grow over time. Thamesbank saving and borrowing is flexible.