Prepare to face your debt demons. Really, it's not that hard to do. For instance, it's less painful than trying on bathing suits under the harsh glare of fluorescent lighting.

At the Mall of America.

The day after Thanksgiving.

In a dressing room where the latch doesn't work.

OK, you get it. Facing the debt demons is one of life's more unpleasant tasks. But trust us, it's worth it. And the euphoria you'll feel as you watch your debt dwindle each month will far exceed any high brought on by the most flattering bathing suit -- even one in your favorite color. And marked 50% off. That, we promise.

The first step to getting out of debt is to get it all down on paper. Write down everything that you owe -- to whom, how much, and at what interest rate. (Use our free Get Out of Debt downloadable workbook to help you keep track.) This may be the most startling list you ever make, but it's a necessary first step.

Once you've written it all down, it's time to plan your attack. You don't want to throw yourself at a mountain of bad debt without preparation. A scattershot approach will lead to frustration, or worse -- a slide back into old charging habits. For a rundown of ways to go on the offensive, use our free Get Out of Debt guide.

As you lay the foundation for your debt repayment plan, be mindful of your must-pay obligations (food, rent -- not cable TV or daily happy hours). Job loss, a short- or long-term disability, a family illness, or a really, really bad haircut (scratch that last one) can throw off your plan. You don't want to trade a few bad debts for other bad debts.

Now let's get busy and start paying.