Why are so many Americans struggling to pay off their credit card debt? Studies show that a third of the population carries more in credit card debt than they have in savings. If this sounds like you, don’t despair. Adopting a disciplined approach to paying what you owe and building up your savings can soon get you out of debt and financially healthy.

Bring on a budget

The first step in getting control of that credit card debt is to cease using them. If you carry those cards around in your purse or wallet, take them out. The next step is to make a budget you can live with. This usually means cutting out all non-essential purchases.

To increase the amount of money to devote to your debt, consider downsizing big expenses like a home or car. The more money you put toward credit card debt, the sooner it is paid off.

Snowball credit card payments

While you live within your budget, you’ll need to make payments toward your credit card debt. Some financial experts recommend tackling the credit cards with the highest interest rate first. Others suggest starting on the card with the smallest debt.

Pay as much as you budgeted toward the debt until that balance is gone. Then, move to the next card and pay that one off using the savings from the first card. As your payments snowball, the impact will be greater.

Build up your savings

To prevent yourself from falling back into credit card debt, enact a plan to build up your savings. Set a goal for at least three to six months of savings. Then, you’ll be able to draw on that in emergencies instead of turning to credit cards.

Set up an automatic deduction from your paycheck that puts a predetermined amount directly into your savings account. That way, you won’t forget or procrastinate. Over time, the money in savings adds up to a comfortable amount.