The economy is struggling, and consumer debt is at an all-time high. Total consumer credit reached nearly $2.6 trillion in May, according to preliminary numbers released earlier this month by the Federal Reserve Board --and that sum excludes loans secured by real estate (e.g. mortgages and home equity loans).
In some cases, consumers are carrying so much debt that they can barely cover their interest charges, much less pay off their balances. This is especially true of credit card debt, where some interest rates are over 20%.
If you have more debt than you can handle -- and potentially skyrocketing rates on your adjustable rate mortgage or credit cards -- you need a plan. That means figuring out exactly how much you owe, and how best to pay off your bills.
Organizations such as the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta (CCCS) can help you set priorities for your debts. And your first priority should be to protect the basics: your sources of shelter and income.