Here's the only rule you need to follow to eliminate your debt:
Never charge again.
It seems too easy to be true, but I can assure you that it is true. I know because I'm living it right now. It's working for me and it will work for you. If you truly want to get out of debt, stop charging.
Some people will try to convince themselves that this rule is impossible to follow. I'm not going to say that it's always easy, but it is possible. You just have to ask yourself what's more important - some material item that you can't afford or your financial future.
As long as you're charging, you'll never pay off your credit cards. It reminds me of the old cartoon where the character is trying to stop a leaking dam by plugging the holes with his fingers and toes. For every hole he plugs a few more open up.
I've heard all of the excuses:
What about emergencies? -- Guess what, your credit card debt is an emergency. And charging only makes it worse. I'll discuss many other ways for dealing with emergencies in a future post.
I can't afford to live without charging. -- Yes, you can. You might not have the same lifestyle you had before, but sacrifices now will be worth it in the long run. Pay your bills first, then live on what's left.
Everyone has credit card debt. -- This is a common misconception. Not everyone is in debt, and even if they were, that's still no excuse. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you follow?
I could list excuses all day. I've said them all before. I probably even made up a few new ones. The point is you must stop charging if you ever hope to pull yourself out of debt.
Eliminating debt is about more than just spending money. You must make a mental change if you're ever going to succeed. Charging is like an addiction. Convincing your mind that you don't need it anymore is the most difficult part.
Once you're really ready to start paying off your debt, commit yourself to this rule. Make it a mantra if that's what you need. Start off each day by saying "I will never charge again!" Say it with conviction and really mean it.
I found that it really helped me to tell other people about this rule. I've told my friends and family "I'm never charging again!" Most people are understanding and supportive of this kind of life change.
If your friends aren't supportive, it's probably because they're still in denial about their own credit problems. Send them to this site, maybe they'll understand. If they still can't accept what you're doing, then it might be time to find new friends.
Commit yourself 100% to this rule and everything else will fall into place. It will take some time, but stick with it and I know you can do it.