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How to Take Control of Your Credit Cards

Declined? How to Fight Back and Get Out of Debt

By Suze Orman

I’m all for taking credit where credit is due, but when it comes to credit cards, way too many of you are overdoing it. For Americans who don’t pay their entire credit card bill each month, the average balance is close to $4,000. And when we zoom in on higher-income folks—those with annual incomes between $75,000 and $100,000—the average balance clocks in at nearly $8,000. If you’re paying, say, 18 percent interest on an $8,000 balance, and you make only the 2 percent minimum payment due each month, you are going to end up paying more than $22,000 in interest over the course of the 54 years it will take to get the balance down to zero.

That’s absolute insanity.

And absolutely unnecessary.

If you have the desire to take control of your credit card mess, you can. It’s just a matter of choice. I am not saying it will be easy, but there are plenty of strategies that can put you on a path out of credit card hell. And as I explain in the accompanying sidebar, even those of you who can’t seem to turn the corner and become credit responsible on your own, can get plenty of help from qualified credit counseling services.

How to Be a Credit Card Shark

If you overspend just because you like to buy buy buy on credit, then you are what I call Broke by Choice. You are willfully making your own mess. I am not going to lecture you about how damaging this is; I’m hoping the fact that you’re reading this article means you are ready to make a change.


The Two Dumbest Ways to Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt

Now that I’ve shown you what to do, I want to make sure you avoid two bonehead moves. Whatever you do, don’t you ever use a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or a loan from your 401(k) to pay off your credit card debt!


Sidebar: Is Credit Counseling Right for You?

There is plenty of help available if you can’t seem to get a solid grip on dealing with your credit card debt. But not all the help is good. Given that so many Americans are drowning in card debt, it’s really no surprise that some enterprising—and underhanded—folks have figured out a way to make money off of this epidemic by charging high fees for counseling and advice. more...

Credit Cards Checklist
To keep yourself on track to healthier personal finances, start here by printing out this checklist of important to-dos when managing your credit cards.

Start Now!

Suze Orman has been called “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse” by USA Today. She is the author of four consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including The Road to Wealth. Suze Orman, a Certified Financial Planner Professional®, directed the Suze Orman Financial Group from 1987-1997, served as Vice President of Investments for Prudential Bache Securities from 1983-87, and from 1980-83, was an Account Executive at Merrill Lynch.

Watch Suze every Saturday night on CNBC. Check for TV listings. More great advice on Suze's blog.

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