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Fools and Their Debt

When last we polled you, our enlightened Motley Fool Community, about credit card debt, 6,000 of more than 9,000 respondents reported they paid their bills in full each month. (Cue polite golf clap.)

Of course, that leaves the remaining 36% rolling over anywhere from $1 to more than $10,000 in balances from month to month to month. In other words, one out of every three Fools has revolving credit card debt, just a little better than the 40% of average, non-Fool Americans in the same boat.

Do you have a good excuse for carrying debt? We sure hope so. Perhaps you've hit a bumpy patch and need your cash to keep a roof over your head and the room at a pleasant 74 degrees. (At the very least, pay the minimum due on your cards -- and pay it on time. Late fees are killers and have reached an all-time high of $39 at some major lending institutions.)

Or maybe you're taking advantage of an interest-free loan, like the low balance transfer rate currently offered on The Motley Fool Visa, biding your time while paying down your debts.

Perhaps you're even trying to game the system, thinking that your investments can beat out the interest you're paying on borrowed cash. Not matter your stock-picking prowess, that's a bad idea. Market returns are not guaranteed -- unlike the interest you pay on your credit card, which is about as sure as death and taxes.

They exist, but the times it makes sense to carry credit card debt are few and far between. And the 7% of you carrying outstanding balances between $5,000 and $9,999, consider this: By paying the minimum -- say, for instance, $120 a month -- on a card charging around 14% interest, you end up shelling out anywhere from $1,900 to $2,700 in interest alone. (We're not math whizzes. You can find out how much interest you're paying on your debts by using this cute little calculator.)

Look at your debt situation and peruse the guidelines in our "Manage Your Credit" area here at Then decide whether you should put yourself in a time out.

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