The last decade was all about excess. Americans bought record numbers of homes and watched with wide grins as home price appreciation seemed endless.
As home prices rose, consumers pulled out equity to fund lavish expenditures like fancy cars, designer duds, and tropical vacations.
But once the housing boom turned bust, many Americans had little place to turn to pay off their swelling debts.
Fortunately, many Americans changed their ways during the past couple of years, shifting focus from spending to saving.
However, there are a great many of us that who have sizable outstanding debt, much of it on our credit cards.
So what's the best plan of attack in 2011?
Well, there are a number of ways to pay off credit card debt, but let's focus on two simple methods.
Credit Card APR Reduction
This one takes but a phone call. If you've got credit card debt and a high APR, say 19.99%, most of your payments are going toward interest, not principal.
Demand that your credit card issuer lower your APR or you'll move the debt to another company.
This could be enough for them to slash your rate and save you a bundle.
If they won't go for it, you've got another great option.
The economy hit a pretty dark period there in 2008 and 2009, but things seem to be on the upswing nowadays.
So instead of paying finance charges every month, you can transfer that debt quickly and easily to a new card issuer and avoid interest for up to two years!
With all of your credit card payments going toward the principal balance, it'll be a lot easier to get out of debt and even squirrel some money away to use for retirement, your kid's college tuition, or any unexpected emergency.
A quick example:
If you transferred $5,000 in debt from a credit card with 19.99% APR to a 0% APR credit card, you'd save roughly $1,000 during the first year (using simple math).
Not bad for a few minutes of work.
Remember, while these methods are helpful to alleviate debt, responsible spending habits are paramount.
Be mindful when using a credit card, as debt can quickly spiral out of control.