Strategies To Pay Off Debt

The average consumer owes $16,000 in credit card debt. Consumer Reports shows us why it pays to be strategic about paying off your debts.

Credit card debt in the United States is a staggering $850 billion.

The best way to pay off your debt--pull together all your credit card statements. Get out bills for other non-tax-deductible loans like your car loan.

Make a list of what you're being charged every month in interest and other fees-from the most money to the least.

"It can be confusing if you've got balance transfer fees, cash advance fees on your credit card as well as your regular charges," said Consumer Reports Amanda Walker. "You want to check the finance charges box to get the total."

Consumer Reports Money Adviser says once you've prioritized your debt, make the bulk of your payments to the one that's costing you the most.

And don't rush to pay of mortgages or a home equity line of credit because these are usually low interest and tax deductible.

One other move that can save you money-call and ask your credit card company to lower your interest rate.

"In a survey we found that more than 50% of people that called their credit card company to get their interest rate lowered were successful," said Walker. "It can help if you let them know you're thinking of transferring your card balance to another company."

Paying less interest on your credit card and eliminating your most-expensive debt first can add up to money saved.

Need help whittling down some of your expenses? Many budget software programs offer free budget worksheets on line.

Consumer Reports suggests:

--Ones from Microsoft


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