I’m not a big proponent of people having a lot of credit cards. It’s way too easy to get lulled into a false sense of security as far as being able to buy anything you want to. Small monthly payments are also misleading because most people don’t realize how many years it would take to pay off large balances if one only sticks to the minimum payment.

Having said that, if you start to find yourself in some kind of financial trouble and you want to start working on your debt load to bring it down, there is one major trick you can try, if you can qualify for it, but you have to stick to it.

There are still some companies that will give you a credit cards with either no interested for up to six months or very low interest rates for that period of time. If you’re up to it you should try to qualify for one or two of these cards. Don’t go for a card that ends up giving you almost no credit balance whatsoever; a $500 balance won’t help you on this front.

The idea is to get a credit card that will allow you to transfer all the balances of other credit cards you have to the new card. That’s why it might take two cards. You need to at least have the ability to get close to getting it all onto the new cards; if you miss by a thousand or so this plan will still work.

What you have to be willing to do is twofold. First, you have to be willing to spend at least twice the amount per month on the new cards than what the minimum payment amount is. If you can spend 3 times the amount, that would be even better. Without adding interest, you can bring the balances down a lot faster on those cards.

Second, you have to be willing to not add anything to your existing cards, or at least very little. Yes, you’re going to need to create a budget; many people’s least favorite word. The idea is to not take on any additional debt while you’re trying to bring down the big debt. Having a budget allows you to see how much more you can put onto each of the new cards, or card, while still having enough money to live on.

I actually did this method back in the early 90’s. I got approved for a card that had a credit limit of $5,000 and moved all the debt from my other cards to that one. Then I set a budget of spending only $100 a month on one of my pre-existing cards, mainly for gas, and buckled down on all the other bills and debt. Within 2 years, I had all that outstanding debt caught up and paid off, and within 6 months I weaned myself off using the existing card so I wasn’t accumulating any new debt.

It’s a risky plan, and you don’t want to go into it with closed eyes. If you’re not willing to make sacrifices in controlling your spending it won’t work, and you’ll soon find yourself in bigger trouble than when you started. But if you’re able to control yourself, you’ll be able to find yourself out of debt, or at least with a whole lot less, in a relatively short period of time.