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Pay Down Your Consumer Debt

Paying down consumer debt is one of the first steps someone can take to get a handle on his financial situation. Given that some American households are carrying a lot of nonmortgage debt -- a national average of $16,727 according to the latest numbers from Experian, that may prove difficult for some.

As for credit card debt, the average American household carries about $6,900, according to various news stories citing Experian statistics. In reality, most houses likely carry less because the average gets skewed by the highly indebted households at the extreme. According to the 2004 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, the average credit card debt was $5,100, with the median debt at only $2,200. (The 2004 study is the latest survey from the Federal Reserve. The collection of data for the 2007 survey was completed in early 2008 and processing of the data is under way).

Debt of $2,200 is still quite a bit, and many consumers struggle to get ahead of the high interest rates charged on their credit card balances. The online Credit Card Payoff calculator from BankingMyWay.com can be used to figure how much a consumer needs to pay each month to get the balance down to zero.

To use the calculator, input the current balance, interest rates and current monthly payment. A timeline has to be set for how soon one wishes to pay off the balance, and what monthly charges a consumer expects to make on the card while paying it off. The calculator also offers an entry for one-time expenses that people may be planning to place on their credit cards in the near future.

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