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Credit card debt plagues rich and poor alike

by Francine Huff

Remember when news reports claimed that actress Lindsay Lohan supposedly owed $600,000 in credit card debt and was having trouble paying it off? This sad story just goes to show that people of all income levels, professions, and stages of life can end up wallowing in credit card debt if they don't have good money management skills.

Get Real and Confront Credit Card Use

Even people who earn six figure incomes or more can find themselves struggling to keep up with credit card payments and other bills related to lavish lifestyles. So what should you do if your credit card use has spiraled out of control? Use the following tips to clean up your act and get credit card debt under control.

1. Stop making excuses

If you are addicted to shopping and other behaviors that run up credit card debt, recognize it and get help. Run, don't walk, to a credit counselor or group like Debtor's Anonymous. Unless you are willing to make real and lasting changes, you are likely to continue your dependence on credit cards.

2. Stop trying to keep up with friends and family

It's easy to rely on credit cards to keep up a facade of affluence so you can fit in with others. But remember, your self-worth is not measured by the kind of car you drive, clothes you wear, or neighborhood you live in. If the people in your life only want to be around you because of your so-called fabulous lifestyle, you may need to get some new friends.

3. Pay cash -- for everything

Yes, this may seem radical to you. Think of it this way: Would you give a credit card to a 6-year-old and let them run around buying whatever they want? Probably not, and you shouldn't run up credit card bills all over town if you can't pay them off.

4. Deal with emotional baggage that prompts you to spend.

For some people buying things is an escape or a way to avoid the problems in their life. Do some soul searching to figure out areas of your life that may be leading to emotional spending.

5. Stop shifting debt around with various credit card offers

While balance transfer credit cards can allow you to take advantage of lower interest rates, you won't make much progress on paying off credit card debt if you keep moving balances around without making more than the minimum monthly payments.

Getting out of credit card debt isn't easy and won't happen overnight. It requires making some tough decisions. You may even have to make some big sacrifices, like not dining out, forgoing a vacation, or downgrading to a less expensive home.

Published 07/26/12 (Modified 11/19/13)


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