Managing your credit card debt

Figure out the true end costs before you make a large purchase with your credit card. Take the time to learn exactly how interest rates and payments work with your credit card company. Before you buy a $200 dress on credit, do the math based on your payment rates and figure out how much it will really cost you. You might be surprised.

Credit cards may benefit you financially in the short run, but can cause substantial harm in the long run. Learn to look at your finances as a long-term situation. Remain aware

get-out-of-credit-card-debtof the effect of a large credit card balance on your expenses over the next two or three years. If necessary, write these figures down and post them in your home where you will see them every day. This awareness may take the idea out of large credit card purchases that may seem affordable at the time yet are not necessary.

Instead of simply spending when you feel like it, work out a budget that is within your means. Give yourself enough treats within the budget that you will stick with it, but cut out the things that are putting you into debt. Budget your necessities such as rent or mortgage, utilities and food first, and only go shopping after you know that these things are all covered.

If you have a large number of credit cards, it’s easy to remain unaware of just how much money you’re putting toward them every month, especially if the bills for them arrive at different times. By paying off all of your credit cards except for one (if necessary, by borrowing more on that card to pay off the others), you will make your financial situation far more clear to yourself. That one massive monthly payment may act as a wake-up call about the seriousness of your debt load, and as a motivation to break your spending habits.