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What is causing credit card debt and how does one control it?

As this blog has reported previously, many people throughout the country, including Bradley County and the communities of southeastern Tennessee, are still drowning in credit card debt.

Contrary to a popular misconception, people don't always rack up credit debt on big ticket items like a blow out family vacation or a large shopping spree. Almost one third of people that were asked in a recent survey claimed that their consumer debt went toward maintaining their standard of living. In other words, they used a credit card as a means kicking the can down the road when they got into an income crunch.

Interestingly, consumers reported using credit cards to pay for what many would see as necessary expenses, such as unexpected home repairs or a mechanic's bill. Medical expenses also are a common reason people use credit.

The bottom line is that any Tennessee family can easily find themselves trying to juggle credit card debt while still paying their other bills and making ends meet. The first step to digging out is to examine the credit card statement, as it can give a family some idea of how much interest they are paying and how long the balance will take to pay off.

Additionally, families who are having credit card debt issues should make a budget and try to stick to it. Budgets are helpful for setting priorities and also identifying where the family might be spending too much and could scale back.

Other tips to reduce or at least contain credit card debt include disciplining one's self to pay cash for purchases and consolidating one's credit cards. It is not always best in the long term to sign up for the latest, greatest promotional credit offering.

Of course, some families might, after trying every reasonable trick to reduce credit card debt, realize that they are simply overwhelmed financially and need a fresh start. Bankruptcy may be a viable option in such situations.

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