Making minimum payments each month is a guaranteed way to be stuck in debt much longer than necessary. For example, if you have a $5,000 balance on a credit card with a 15% annual percentage rate and make a minimum monthly payment of just 2% of the balance, it will take you more than 27 years to pay off what you owe, according to a Bankrate credit card calculator. Plus, your total payments with interest over that time will amount to $12,518—2.5 times what you originally charged to the card.
Simply by boosting your monthly payment to 3% of the balance rather than 2%, you can cut that payoff time almost in half. If you really buckle down and increase your monthly payment to 5% of the balance, you’ll wipe out your debt in eight years and pay about $1,600 in interest—rather than the roughly $7,500 in interest that would result from making 2% minimum payments. It might stretch your budget to make bigger payments, but over time you’ll save thousands of dollars that can be put to better use, building wealth rather than servicing debt.