Thursday, January 27, 2005
More Bang for Your Buck: Defeating Debt
Remember all the toys and gifts you bought in December. Well now is the time of year those credit card bills start piling up. In tonight's more bang for your buck, we're going to show you how to pay off the plastic and avoid that dreaded holiday hangover.
WSVN -- Big-ticket toys, expensive electronics, pricey pearls. This holiday season shoppers spent $220 billion dollars.
But now many of them - like Shezette are facing a blizzard of bills that could take months maybe even years to dig out from.
Shezette Blue-Small: "I've just paid the minimum balance when i should have paid more than the minimum balance or the total full."
Financial advisor Maria Arazoza couldn't agree more. She says if you want to be debt free, you have to be patient and disciplined.
Maria Arazoza: "It's not easy to get out of debt but I think there are some very simple steps."
The first step - assess the damage. Figure out exactly how much you owe.
Maria: "We carry various cards with various balances on them and we lose track of what it is that we really owe."
Then, make sure to pay more than the minimum amount.
Maria: "It should be an amount that hurts a little but that you have a good sense of confidence that you can make it every month."
Next, try to lower your interest rate. Call your creditor and negotiate. If that doesn't work, try to transfer your balance to a different card, just make sure there are no major transfer fees.
Now, here's where the discipline comes in - to stay on track you have to cut down using the cards.
Maria: "Take them out of your wallet and don't rely on them for any new additional purchases."
Planning ahead is helping Shezette avoid a major holiday headache.
She sees how much her kids like their new toys. Now instead of splurging at the last minute, she's thinking about Christmas all year long.
Shezette: "We know Christmas is coming we decide to start saving early. Not only do you shop early. We set aside money for Christmas shopping.
For additional help, there are many non-profit agencies that offer credit advice. You can also consider hiring a credit counseling service. Just make sure you do your homework first.
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