If you want to reduce your debt load, here are a few ideas:

  • Stop borrowing. It might seem obvious, but if you're charging just a little bit more than you can pay here and there, you'll find that those expenses add up. If you're having trouble managing your credit card spending, consider cutting up your cards and only paying for things with cash, check, or debit card. 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 more favorable interest rate. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to get a bank loan to pay off your credit cards and other debt. (Sometimes, all it takes is a phone call.) Or you might roll your 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 by holding a garage sale. Or, in these electronic times, you might sell your old lunch boxes, books, and CDs at sites such as Amazon.com or eBay.

  • You may want to rethink your monthly household and personal expenses. Do you really need the premium cable bundle, or lunch out every day? Cutting back here and there can translate into hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

  • If you have debts at several different interest rates, concentrate on paying down the higher-rate debts first.

  • Continually remind yourself that credit cards are not mere conveniences. Accumulating charges on many credit cards is like taking out a 16% to 21% loan.

If you or someone you care about is mired in credit card debt, learn more in our Get Out of Debt area.

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. (We even offer spiffy Motley Fool credit cards.) There's some great, free reading material in our Credit Center, including how to read a credit report.

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