Top New Year's resolution: Pay down credit card debtThe results of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) December poll show consumers remain very connected to their credit cards.
The results of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) December poll show consumers remain very connected to their credit cards.
When asked to rank their 2012 financial resolutions, only six percent of more than 2,300 respondents indicated that decreasing dependence on credit cards was their number one goal. However, the overwhelming majority (62 percent) selected “decreasing debt” as their top focus for 2012. These numbers reflect consumers’ mixed feelings about credit cards.
“Credit cards are a mixed blessing for most,” said Darryl Dahlheimer, program director at LSS Financial Counseling Service. “Access to credit provides options for consumers and can help build a good credit score, but credit card debt can also cause personal turmoil and financial instability.”
Weight loss is a helpful metaphor to understand how credit and debt can play a role in our lives, Dahlheimer said. “Americans understand that maintaining a healthy weight improves overall health and vitality, yet struggle with overeating and sedentary habits that keep extra weight on,” he said. “In the same way, most consumers intend to pay off charges on their credit cards, but many find themselves paying only minimum payments, prolonging debt and personal hardship.”
Losing the “weight” of debt is among the most important steps to financial wellness, Dahlheimer said. “We find that people who sign up for a Debt Management Plan initially express worry about cutting off their access to credit cards, but then experience such a good feeling in being able to live within a spending plan and pay down their debt. Being debt-free can feel a lot like the success of losing an extra 20 pounds.”
For professional assistance meeting your financial goals, call a nonprofit service with certified consumer credit counselors. LSS Financial Counseling Service, a member of the Better Business Bureau and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), helps over 10,000 people every year with free budget and debt counseling and monthly debt management plans. LSS provides financial counseling in-person at nine offices statewide as well as phone and online financial counseling. For appointments, call 1-888-577-2227 or visit www.lssmn.org/debt