Given that it's Cash In On Credit month here at The Motley Fool, we don't know whether to tsk-tsk or give you a high five. Last week's poll on credit card debt revealed that nearly 6,000 of 9,358 respondents pay off their entire credit card balances every month. (Cue polite golf clap.) Of course, that leaves the remaining 36% rolling over anywhere from $1 to more than $10,000 -- from month to month to month.
In other words, one out of every three Fools has revolving credit card debt!
Compare this to America at large, where 40% of consumers carry a credit card balance month-to-month. Thank you to the 370 Fools who pay off their balances every month -- you inched us up 4% above the average. As for the rest of you: You decide whether or not you should put yourself in a Time Out.
Now, there may be a good reason for keeping a balance on your credit cards. 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. No 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 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 the cute little calculator in our Get Out of Debt area.)