Are You in Credit Card Crisis?
Get a cold, clammy feeling when you think of your credit card bills? If so, you are not alone. 40% of Americans carry credit card debt and the average balance is $5,700. If we exclude people who pay their balances in full every month, the average debt is $9,333. Profuse anxiety is only one sign that you may have bitten off a bigger bite of plastic than you can chew. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are in over your head.
- Do you avoid creditors by not answering the phone?
- Do you ignore bills by stuffing them into a pile or box unopened?
- Do you pay for other charge cards, food or utilities with cash advances or credit?
- Is more than 20% of your net income committed to revolving debt payments?
- Do you regularly bounce checks?
- Have any creditors closed your accounts?
- Do you skip certain bills every month?
- Do you make only minimum payments on credit cards while continuing to incur charges?
An affirmative response to any of these questions may indicate credit over-extension. Stagnant debts, high interest rates, and punitive finance charges can quickly supersede the benefits of credit. Experts suggest breaking the cycle of debt by reviewing your monthly spending plan followed by adjusting your expenses and/or increasing your income. Increasing your payments and requesting interest rate reductions can help you accelerate your payoff time. Most importantly, if your debt is unmanageable, stop adding new charges on your card immediately. Feeling overwhelmed because of credit card debt is natural, but with commitment and a step-by-step approach you can turn crisis into conquest.