Resolutions to pay off debt? Consumers owe more than ever on credit cards

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — If one of your big New Year’s Resolutions is to pay down debt, you’ve got company — tens of millions of other consumers.

New reports indicate that consumer credit card debt is now about $1 trillion.

Of course, people have others kinds of debt, such as mortgages and an alarming number of young people are facing huge amounts of student loan debt.

Still, for many people, getting a handle on credit card debt is a priority.

John Levis of Savannah says he realized some years ago that paying off debt was essential and so he’s done just that.

He sees how other people can get themselves into trouble.

“You kind of get used to having that piece of plastic and it’s really easy to charge it up because I have done it in the past,” he told us. “My advice to people would just be to ask do they really need that item they’re about to buy on a credit card? If not, don’t do it.”

Goodwill of Southeast Georgia sees the need for people to learn more budgeting skills.

The company is working with Wells Fargo to start a financial literacy initiative.

“Anyone can benefit from this regardless of income living within a budget and saving for things,” says Meredith Champagne from Goodwill of Southeast Georgia.

She says they will work with individuals to help them understand how debt affects their credit rating, how to pay down debt and to learn to save for things like buying a car or even car repairs

Call 912-354-6611 to learn more about the project and how you can take the classes.

Consumer Credit Counseling of Savannah says making an effort to pay down debt in the next year is one of the best things people can do to improve their credit scores.

Consumer Credit Counseling recommends:

1) Making a monthly budget and sticking to it. List in detail every expense including housing and utilities.

2) Throwing away your credit cards especially if your spending is out of control and you are having trouble even making minimum payments.

3) Paying down one card to start. Try tackling the card with the lowest balance which can give you a sense of accomplishment.

4) Or start with the card with the lowest interest rate. Paying more on this card will help you pay down the balance faster as more of your money is actually applied to the debt and not to interest.

5) Once a card is paid off – take the money you were using for that payment and use it to pay down other cards faster.

6) Know the difference between debt management (which is offered by nonprofits like Consumer Credit Counseling of Savannah at 912- 691-2227) and which is normally a nominal cost per month versus debt consolidation services which may cost more.

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