I read recently that the average family has at least $10,000 in consumer credit card debt. Being one of those 'average' families, I've been there, and know how difficult it can be to make any headway in getting out of debt. For many years now, credit card companies have been making it SO EASY for all of us to get into debt by offering credit cards to practically anyone regardless of creditworthiness or ability to pay. I have a family member who lives on a disability income of about $700 a month, and he carries a couple credit cards in his wallet! Easy credit has been one of the major factors behind the looming financial crisis we now face as a nation. While there is not a lot that we can do about the mortgage meltdown or collapse of the dollar, there are steps that we can take to get our own financial house in order, and one of those is eliminating credit card debt.
Growing up as a child, I recall that my parents owned neither a house or a car. While my father worked his entire life, he had a large family, and never seemed to be able to save enough money to buy a house. In those days, in order to be able to buy a house you had to be able to either pay cash, or put a very large down payment on it. There wasn't a whole lot of 'credit' available. People back then basically had to live within their means. Unfortunately, easy credit has enabled most of us to live well beyond our means. I once had a friend say to me, "Bill, you can afford anything you want, you just have to stretch the payments out longer". While exaggerating a bit, the truth is most of us live as if we can afford anything we want. In order to get our financial house in order, we first need to see where we stand.
I have an acquaintance who could not seem to make any headway financially. He was always complaining about his wife's spending habits saying that she was constantly spending, keeping them both in debt. I asked him if he had ever sat down with her and made a comparison of income versus expenses. After gazing at me for a few minutes with a blank expression on his face, he admitted that he had never done this. After much prodding, and a few arguments with his wife over money, he finally sat down with her to do an examination of their finances. To his surprise, he found that their fixed monthly bills were larger than their income! After several apologies to his wife, they agreed that they had to make some changes, and for them that was his wife getting a full time job, and cutting back on spending in a couple of areas. One of the first things you should do is take some time to do an evaluation of your finances to see exactly where you stand. Are you spending more than you are making? If the answer is yes, than you need to make some changes, specifically spending less and/or earning more.
Once you know where you stand financially, be determined to eliminate debt by using a systematic approach. Increasing your monthly payment will reduce your debt and pay it off faster because the extra amount goes to paying off the principle. Always try to pay more than the minimum payment. Credit card debt will come down much faster by making payments in large chucks as opposed to making the minimum payment. Be determined to increase the payment amount by again either reducing spending in other areas, or if necessary, increasing income. Even a part time income that allows you to make an extra $200 a month payment will reduce your debt much faster.
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