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Taking charge of your credit card debt

Believe it or not, the holidays are just around the corner. The leaves in Kentucky are starting to change, and before you know it, families will be gathering for festive celebrations. Maybe you're excited for this time of year, or maybe your credit card debt has you facing it with dread.

You may have added more to your balances with a summer vacation or back-to-school shopping, or maybe your finances are so desperate that you use your credit card for essentials like groceries and utility bills. Perhaps you have resolved to use your credit cards only for emergencies, but tackling the balances may seem overwhelming. Financial advisors offer a few suggestions for achieving that goal.

What you don't know can hurt you

Like many who fear facing the true scope of their debt, you may not have a clear idea of where your money goes. Advisors say this is the first step to overcoming your debt. Painful as it may be, a frank assessment of your situation will allow you to get an accurate picture of what you need to do to break the cycle of credit card debt.

In addition to listing your bills and debts, keeping track of your incidental expenditures will also help you see your spending habits. This may be one area in which you over-use your credit card. Seeing the amount of money you spend on extras may motivate you to stick to a budget.

Options for finding money

If you have a goal to pay down your credit cards, you may need to find some money to add to the minimum monthly payments. You have likely realized that paying the minimum is getting you nowhere, so you may decide to eliminate some of the extra items in your budget temporarily until you get your credit card debt under control.

Cutting expenses like a gym membership, gourmet coffee or lunch out will provide you with a surprising amount of money you didn't realize you had. By adding that money to your credit card payment, you will soon see your balance dwindling.

Sounds nice on paper

Of course, it's possible you have already cut as much as you can, and the thought of having extra cash to add to anything is like a dream. You may even be using one credit card to pay down the balance on another, creating the feeling that you are drowning in a whirlpool.

If you have stretched your budget to the limit long enough, it may be time for you to seek advice about the many options available for your circumstances, including negotiating with your creditors and filing for debt relief through bankruptcy.

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