How minimum payments keep you broke and in debt

For the month of February we will be walking hand and hand as we work to build better savings (and spending habits). If you want to sign up to get these posts via email for the next 28 Days you can! 

I think most of us have been there. The credit card bill comes and even though we know we swiped it all month long the bill total is still a little shocking. (That's the disconnect between plastic and cash, but that's a talk for another day.)

That was me for years. Years!  I am certainly not proud of that time in my life. In fact, I am so happy that isn't my life anymore. It took a long time to break the credit card habit and even longer to pay off the totals. That's because for a long time all we paid was the minimum balance. 

When we finally decided to pay off our debts once and for all we were facing $36,000 in student loans, credit card debt and medical bills. And the student loans and credit cards we had been paying on for years. 

We realized we would be facing a decade or more in debt if we only paid the minimum balances. But if we could wring $100 or even $200 MORE dollars out of our budget to throw at our credit cards or student loans we each month we could pay them off much, much faster. AND we would save thousands in interest. 

The average U.S. household has $15,355 credit card debt at 15% interest. (Source)

Say you're paying 2% or $300 as your minimum; it would take you almost 7 years to pay off that debt and you would end up paying over $9,000 in interest.

So that $15,000 you borrowed costs you $24,000 to repay. Furthermore, almost half of that total is interest. 

However, if you doubled that payment to $600 a month at the same interest rate, you would pay off that debt in under 3 years. Your interest rate would also be $3,265, which would save you almost $6,000 in interest. 

I realize that it may seem nearly impossible to find an extra $300 each month, but I promise you it's not for the average family. 

So your outdoing expenses will increase, it's only for a few months and will end up saving you THOUSANDS of dollars. Now if you're behind on your bills the first thing you will want to do is become current. The next thing you would want to do is to create a budget and cut down on your expenses.  

It could also mean finding some extra work to do on the side. I know that doesn't sound fun, but this is a temporary situation until your balance reaches 0. 

You can do this.  

What about you? Are you just making your minimum payments?