Help With Holiday Debt

Did you go a little overboard with your holiday spending?

And now, you are up to your ears with bills and credit card debt?

It is possible to dig yourself out.

You are not alone.

Experts say the average American carries $15,000 in debt, spread over about 8 credit cards, and nearly a third of that is racked up in December alone.

  • The first thing you need to do to attack that debt is to figure out how much you owe.

    Patricia Hasson of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service stated, "It's kind of a scary thought because lots of people spread out their debt over several credit cards so it doesn't seem so overwhelming during the holidays, but the only way you're going to get out of it is by writing down everything you owe, and the corresponding interest rates so you know which ones to start tackling first."

  • Second, prepare a household budget.

    Hasson added, "Take a look at your income, all your expenses and really determine how much money you have left over to pay off your debt."

  • Third, do your homework on options.

    Be careful about transferring the balance from one card to another and be even more cautious about taking out a home equity loan to cover your debts.

    Hasson said, "You're taking unsecured debt and ‘securitizing’ it and if you already have a tight budget and something happens in the future you don't want to lose your home."

  • Fourth, select and commit to a plan.

    Do you really need everything on your cable bill? Can you cut back on dining out, coffee, and lottery tickets?

    Really take a close look at where you can cut back. Easier said than done, right? That's where credit counselors can really help.

    Hasson says "They're doing this day in and day out with many consumers, so they see many ways to save money that they might be able to share with you."

    There are several reputable non-profit credit counseling organizations that consumers can turn to for help. Please visit the links below for more information.

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