17 ways to eliminate debt: Part 1

Take this short quiz to see if you are headed for debt trouble.

If you are in debt, you are not alone. The average debt among all American households was $117,951 in 2012, according to the StatisticsBrain website, which cited data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Service.

Some consumers may not realize that they are headed into too much debt or are already there. Review the following statements and count the number of them that reflect your current debt situation.

  • I do not know how much money I need each month for my living expenses.
  • I do not know how much I owe on my total debt.
  • I cannot seem to stop myself from buying things I do not need or cannot afford.
  • I avoid looking at my bills and credit card statements.
  • I pay my mortgage, rent, car loans or utility bills late at least once per year.
  • I keep things I buy on credit secret from my partner or lie about how I paid for them.
  • I have gotten a phone call about an overdue credit payment.
  • I spend more time worrying about my bills than paying them.
  • I have taken a cash advance on a credit card to pay monthly expenses.
  • I charge more on my credit cards than I pay each month.
  • I owe money to more than seven creditors.
  • I depend on extra income, such as overtime, to make ends meet.
  • I have past-due credit payments that will take more than a year to pay.
  • More than 15 percent of my take-home pay goes to credit payments (excluding mortgage).
  • I would like to consolidate my loans or extend my current loan.
  • I usually pay only the minimum on my credit cards.
  • I owe more money to my creditors than I own in personal property.

According to DollarWorks 2: A Personal Financial Education Program, you may have a problem using credit if you agree with four or more of these statements. You may be headed for disaster with credit if you agree with more than seven of the statements.

If you have a debt problem, Michigan State University Extension educators urge you to read the next installment of this 3-part series on debt. In the meantime, please visit MIMoneyHealth.org for credit and debt management tips.

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