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You might have credit card problems if...

By Ben Woolsey

While it might seem obvious enough that many people are in serious credit card debt, many don't seem to heed the warning signs. And, for some, a simple balance transfer to a 0 percent credit card might not be enough to solve the problem and permanently eliminate credit card debt. Some fundamental changes need to take place to create lasting financial health, and that often involves professional debt counseling.

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This topic can be quite timely after the holiday season, when so many Americans go on a credit card bender during December and wake up with a humdinger of a bill to pay. If any of the following things describe your credit card situation, you may want to consider getting some advice from a financial counselor:

  • You are only making the minimum amounts required on your accounts, or perhaps even less than the minimums
  • You have maxed out more than one of your cards and desire even more credit
  • You consistently charge more each month than you make in payments 
  • You're robbing Peter to pay Paul, (you apply for another credit card so you can use cash advances from it to pay an existing card)
  • You're not sure how much you owe and would prefer to avoid the topic entirely
  • You buy necessities like food and gasoline with credit cards because you don't have the necessary income or savings
  • You're eating into everyday or retirement savings to pay your monthly credit card bills
  • You're hiding the gravity of the problem from your spouse
  • You sign up for every new credit card offer that hits your mailbox
  • You have more credit cards than slots in your wallet

The start of the new year is a great time to resolve to get back in shape, both physically and financially. Most of us can go the self-help route when we get overextended and get things back under control. But as with those who need a little extra motivation and guidance from a personal trainer, a little professional advice can go a long way.

Many debt counseling services options are even free, such as those offered by Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), which operates in most cities across the country. Organizations like CCCS are actually funded in part by major financial institutions since they view the service as being in their long-term best interests.

If you see yourself described in any of the top ten warning signs above you might want to consider a little financial makeover to begin living without the albatross of credit card debt in the coming years.

Published: March 21, 2006


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