Credit Card Debt

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If we haven't already gotten them, we know they are on the way, those dreaded bills for our holiday spending.

We'll be in for a rude awakening thanks to a new federal guideline. Millions of us who carry monthly credit card balances will find that our minimum payments will have gone from two percent to four percent. Local credit counselors say now that the holidays are over they're seeing more people coming in in need of financial planning.

"When we sit down with a consumer we see so many instances where they have items in their budget that they just don't need and often aren't even aware that they're spending," says Michael McAuliffe, president of Family Credit Counseling Service.

And for those of us already on a financial edge, this means we will be forced to pay off our debts more quickly. To get a handle on our bills, experts suggest starting the new year off with a budget.

Like many of us, Shawna Young and Chris Motherwell found themselves under a financial strain. They have taken steps to reduce their debts after enrolling in the Family Credit Counseling Service. Now they feel they have a better understanding

"This program has helped me out by showing me how to budget correctly, stay on the budget, and work within my means," says client Chris Motherwell. "I learned managing my money in order to keep my credit score a certain way, so you can have things in the future." says client Shawna Young.

Experts say if we have credit cards and we are paying high interest rates to stop using them. The average family came into the holidays already carrying more than $9,000 in credit card debt.