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Can small changes get you out of financial peril?

Do you pay off your credit card balances each month, or do you allow the interest and fees to accrue and bury you deeper into debt?

If your family is like the typical American family, you probably have over $15,000 in credit card debt alone. That, coupled with mortgages, student loans and car payments, can cause families to be forced to defer their dreams as they struggle to meet their monthly obligations.

There are many strategies for debt management, but below are two important things to consider before plunking down the plastic on your next purchase.

Pay cash when your purchase is under $20. Those lattes every morning on the way to work can add up. Do you really want to be paying now for a coffee drink you had three months ago? A good rule of thumb is if you don't have the cash, forego the purchase until you can afford it. Remember, you can always make coffee at home for your morning commute.

Paying with plastic ups the price approximately 20 percent. Most consumers are on the lookout for deals and bargains to save as much money as possible. Be aware, though, that those savings fly right out the window when the consumers fail to pay off their credit cards and get hit with interest rates that can swell the final price of the purchase considerably.

One research group for public policy, the Urban Institute, surveyed nearly 14,000 customers of a credit card issued by Arizona Federal Credit Union. When those not part of the control group got either of those messages via online web banners, email or reminders like refrigerator magnets, some made small changes to their spending habits.

For others whose debts truly are crushing, those reminders may be insufficient. Check with an Arizona bankruptcy attorney to review all of your options to get out of debt.

Source: CBS News, "Count 'em: 2 simple rules for reducing credit card debt," Aimee Picchi, accessed May 31, 2017

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  • NACA | National Association of Consumer Advocates
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