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Susan Tompor: How do you pay off all that credit card debt?

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Like the holiday pounds, credit card debt doesn't just melt away -- especially after the latest binge.

The cold reality is credit card debt hit a record $1.02 trillion in November, according to figures released by the Federal Reserve. And Americans racked up on average $1,054 in debt to treat others -- and, frankly, themselves -- during the holiday season, according to MagnifyMoney.

About half of consumers surveyed admit it will take more than three months to pay off holiday spending, according to MagnifyMoney. Some may need five months or longer.

Now what? What can you do to juggle all those credit card bills and avoid drowning in a debt trap? Sure, many people aren't scared yet, as the jobs market is strong. Bankers say most consumers are continuing to pay their bills.

But what happens when the furnace dies? Or you lose your smartphone? What should you do if, maybe, your 2018 goal is to pay off all those credit card bills?

First, imagine what you could do, if you had no credit card bills

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Lauren Zangardi Haynes, a fee-only financial adviser who has a blog called WordsonWealth.com, said some of her younger clients are motivated to cut down expenses to pay down debt once they think about their dreams.

Without all the credit card bills, maybe, they could save more money for a down payment on a home, take a big trip or take a risk like switching careers.

"Now, my debt is holding me back from the life I want to live," she said.

Many times, young couples start having children and realize they need to set aside money for their children's college education or retirement.

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