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Paying off credit card debt is good -- if done wisely

Credit card debt can feel like an overwhelming burden. Short of winning the lottery or getting a large inheritance, you're not going to be able to pay off a large amount of credit card debt overnight without feeling the pain somewhere else. Doing it the smart way usually takes time.

Unfortunately, people are often impatient, and look for quick and easy ways to do things. What may seem like a good solution for quickly paying down or off credit card debt, however, will likely leave you with other debt or with depleted savings.

Following are some tempting -- but generally unwise -- ways to handle this debt:

-- Taking money from your savings: You should always have an emergency savings cushion for unforeseen circumstances like a job loss. You definitely shouldn't raid your retirement savings. The tax penalties for doing that are substantial.

-- Taking out a loan: You have to be very careful with these. Your options may not save you any interest on what you're paying your credit card company. Home equity loans or lines of credit may be a solution if you can get one at a good rate. However, people often don't have as much equity in their home as they think they do, if they have any at all.

-- Skipping a mortgage payment: This is definitely unwise. If you get into the habit of doing that, you could end up in foreclosure.

The smartest ways to pay down your credit card debt include:

-- Paying more than the minimum each month, focusing on the cards with the highest interest rates first.

-- Cutting back on unnecessary expenses. People get used to little luxuries, like that cup of Starbucks every morning or going to the closest fast food place for lunch instead of brown-bagging it. Those things may not seem like large expenses, but they add up. Take a hard look at what you can give up in exchange for putting more money to your credit cards.

It's easy to get into the habit of putting increasingly more of our daily expenses on credit cards. It's a painless way to spend money -- until the bills come. Before you know it, you're in too deep. If you don't see a way out on your own, an Arizona bankruptcy attorney can advise you on your options and help you determine what is best for you.

Source: Bankrate, "6 risky ways to pay off credit card debt," Janna Herron, accessed July 27, 2016

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