If you find yourself saddled with more debt than you can bear, take comfort in knowing you're not the only one. On credit card debt alone, the average household with such debt owes more than $8,000 -- and remember, that's just the average.
Here are a few ideas to help you dig out:
- Stop borrowing. It might seem obvious, but if you're just charging a little more than you can pay here and there, those expenses add up. If you're having trouble managing your credit card spending, consider cutting up your cards and paying for things with only cash or a check. Some Fools suggest putting your cards in a bag of water and popping them in the freezer. When you're tempted to use them, you'll have to wait until they thaw, giving you time to rethink your urge.
- Consolidate your debt under a better interest rate. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to get a bank loan to pay off your credit cards and other debt. Or you might roll your credit card debt from various cards onto a single, more favorable card.
- Allocate as much money as you can to paying down your debt. You could raise some extra funds with a garage sale. Or, in these online times, you might sell your old lunch boxes, woks, books, and CDs at sites such as eBay and Half.com.
- If you have debts at several different interest rates, concentrate on paying down the higher-rate debts first.
- Always remind yourself that credit cards are not mere conveniences. Accumulating charges on many credit cards is like taking out a 16% to 21% loan. (For many people, the interest rate is in the 30% range and higher. Egad!)
If you or someone you care about is mired in credit card debt, learn in our Credit Center how to get out of debt. We even offer a free online course on how to dig yourself out. On the other hand, if you have your personal finances under control and would like to make the most of the money you'll be needing in the next few years, visit our Savings Center, where we offer you some special deals on interest rates.
And by the way, if thinking about investing makes your head hurt and you'd like an actual person (a financial pro, no less) to talk to about your financial situation, look into our TMF Money Advisor. It's a valuable service, featuring customized independent advice from a variety of objective financial experts. You need to make sure you're saving enough, and well enough, to meet all your needs. If you need some help doing that, look into this offering.