DETROIT – With prices and taxes going up and our paychecks going down, getting out of debt may seem more and more difficult.
Ruth to the Rescue has been checking with experts to come up with some concrete steps that can be taken to regain control of your finances.
The average household debt for Americans, who use credit cards, is about $15,000.
"I've been down that road. I've been through, you know, credit cards, paying them off, using them again, paying them off, said Amy Moore of Clinton Township.
The problem can be daunting.
"It can be very emotional. The stress if dealing with, if you're getting collection calls, that kind of thing. It can be a lot of stress on a marriage," said Katie Moore, a financial counselor at Greenpath Debt Solutions in Detroit.
One Debt At A Time
The first plan that might pay off for you is the "One Debt At A Time" approach.
Pick one credit card to pay off, it should be the card with the highest interest rate.
Determine how much money, each month, you can spend on your debts. Pay only the minimum balance on the rest of your cards, and put the majority of your money toward that high interest card to pay it off more quickly.
"You can see the progress with one account, rather than kind of channeling your money over many accounts," said Moore.
On the other hand, consolidating your debts is an option. There are two ways to take this approach. If you get a 0% offer from one credit card, transfer all of your balances to that card. However, remember to read the fine print. there will probably be a transfer fee and a time limit. Make sure you can pay the balance before the interest rate kicks in.
"The other pitfall that you really want to watch when you're doing that is to close the accounts that you transferred. cause often times people will transfer their balances to that 0% card and then end up using the other accounts again," warned Moore.
The second option for consolidating your debts: get a consumer loan at a lower interest rate than you're paying on your cards. The same warnings would apply here. Do not keep using your cards, and make sure you can handle the loan payments on time each month.
These days, Moore says getting that loan could be tougher.
"Lenders aren't giving the amounts they used to in years past. So, you may not be approved for the amount you need," Moore said.
If you're struggling to make your payments, the third option is: consider asking your creditor for help.
"Sometimes they'll give you short-term and long-term programs to reduce interest rate, reduce payments," said Moore.
Get A Second Opinion
Finally, you may come to the point where you need a professional who steps in and helps you turn things around.
"Maybe you've tried some of these strategies in the past, and you still haven't been able to get the results you're looking for. It might make sense to come in and have a second set of eyes on your situation."
However you tackle your debt solving the problem will feel great!
"It's very hard. You just have to be organized. You have to prioritize and plan it out", said Julia Dunbar of Commerce. However, when she paid off her bills she said "It felt good. Very good!"
"I think it's important for people to know if they're in that situation, it's temporary! And, that you can get through it!" added Amy Moore of Clinton Township.
If you should need professional help, Greenpath Debt Solutions is a non-profit organization that standby ready to help.
It's been helping people since 1961, and has 60 branch offices in several states.
If you need a consultation, it's free.
If you sign up for a program to pay your debt, Greenpath Debt Solutions charges a percentage of your monthly payment, but never more than $50, with the average fee being around $36.
Here's a link to Greenpath Debt Solutions: http://www.greenpath.com/