Ask the Experts: Should I Consider Consolidation?

When minimum payments just don’t cut, it’s time to find another option.

Dear Gary,

I’ve always paid the minimums on my credit cards and never really considered doing anything differently because I was current and my credit was good. But now with a new wife and a baby on the way, we want to cut a few bills so we have more cash.

So what’s the best strategy for paying off credit card debt quickly so we can be ready by early next year when the baby comes? Should I consider consolidation?

Matt K.
Albany, NY

An expert answer from Gary Herman

Hi Matt,

First off, congratulations on the new baby. I remember how excited we were when our first was born, but I also remember how stressed my wife and I were about whether we’d be able to afford everything we needed to give our kids the best life possible. You’re going definitely going to need cash. Statistics say it takes about a quarter of a million dollars just to raise one child to 18 – and that’s not even including college.

Consolidate credit card debt to make it easy to pay off

In your situation, I’d definitely say yes that debt consolidation sounds like it would be a good option for you to get ahead before the baby arrives. Now it’s just a matter of choosing how you want to consolidate.

Since you have a good credit score, you may not need to enroll in a debt management program. You may be able to take out a personal debt consolidation loan at a low interest rate or sign up for a balance transfer credit card. On that second option with excellent credit, you could have 0% APR for up to two years. No interest accrual means you could pay off your debt quickly without added interest eating up your payments, but be aware that most 0% offers charge a 3%-5% fee to transfer the debt.

High interest eats away at your credit card payments

Just keep in mind as you explore DIY consolidation, your goal needs to be the lowest interest rate possible. That’s why 0% APR can be such a big benefit – 100% of every payment you make will go to reducing your debt. Choose the option that gives you the lowest interest, because it will allow you to pay off your debt faster.

Now, once you’ve consolidated, don’t be satisfied making the scheduled payments on your new consolidated debt. Remember, the faster you pay your debt, the more money and time you’ll have to build your savings before the baby gets here. So pay it off in chunks with the biggest payments you can afford to make without sacrificing other expenses.

Good luck and give us a call if you need more information!

Gary Herman
President of Consolidated Credit

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