Drowning in credit card debt is no fun. But you're not alone -- and many people are even worse off than you. I suspect, for example, that SoccerDad9998 may be in worse shape than you. He joined our bustling online Fool Community in July and made his first post on our discussion boards, titled "Debt Turning Point," in October. In it, he confessed to having racked up gobs of debt and said, "I ask for your support, advice, and tough love as I work my way out of debt."
How bad is his situation? "The unsecured debt total is $102,811 as of today," he wrote. "I have learned my lesson and feel very humbled to be posting for help. I consider myself a rehabilitated compulsive and excessive spender going on my second year of responsible spending."
He was frank enough to share lots of details, such as the exact amounts he owes on various credit cards, plus his mortgage expenses. A detail that didn't surprise me but did depress me was that most of his credit-card interest rates were sky-high: Citigroup's
Think about these numbers for a minute. If you owe $46,000 and are being charged 32% per year, you'll owe, in one year, nearly $15,000 in interest alone on that debt! Is it likely that someone struggling with the $46,000 will be able to absorb and pay off the extra $15,000? I think not.
Worse, in many cases, is that these rates end up being high because of "universal default" policies, whereby if you're late paying one credit card (or even a library fine, sometimes!), other credit cards will jack up your interest rate -- even though you've not been late paying them.
This is all very bad news. Fortunately, this cloud does have some silver linings. For one thing, SoccerDad9998 has come to a great place for help. The denizens of our Credit Cards and Consumer Debt board are known for their careful and generous help. Savvy folks there offer excellent advice and support. Many of them have paid off huge debt loads themselves.
Don't just take my word for it, though -- check out this testimony from someone who paid off $37,000 in fewer than two years on a base salary of $60,000. Then spend some time on our Credit Cards board, and you'll run across lots of "happy dances" from people celebrating their paid-off debts. They and their stories can inspire and instruct. Read the whole discussion generated by SoccerDad9998's post, too -- the last time I checked, there were more than 250 responses!
Learn much more about the surprisingly interesting credit-card industry in our Credit Center, which also features tips on getting out of debt, along with guidance on how to manage your credit effectively. Really. I mean it. There's some great stuff in our Credit Center, and it's all free reading. (We even offer spiffy Motley Fool credit cards, some of which offer cash back or rewards. I've got $106 coming back to me on my Fool card.)
The following articles can help you, too:
- The 8 Commandments of Credit
- The Best Low-Interest Credit Card?
- Urban Credit Legends Exposed!
- $24 Billion to Card Companies . for What?
- Sneaky Credit Card Tactics