BOSTON (CBS) – Sweet temptation! Especially in tough economic times.

There are times in everyone’s financial lives that they may come up short and not have enough dollars to make a full payment on the credit card bill that month. What I am talking about here is the person who maxes out their credit cards and only pays the minimum each month.

They have begun to dig themselves into a black hole for they owe more than they can possibly pay off. According to the average credit card debt is over $15,000, but according to a report from Transunion it’s around $5000. There is much confusion about exactly how much debt consumers are carrying month to month. So it is hard to get an exact handle on the amount. But whatever it is it is too much.

And students graduating from college have an average debt load of almost $3,000. Not student loans but actual credit card debt. And most of these individuals are only making the minimum payments each month so it will take a very long time to pay off that debt.

The government is aware of all of the debt we are carrying as consumers. And the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency pressured the credit card companies to raise the minimum payments required each month. The average minimum payment had been about 2 percent and most cards are now requiring between to 3-4 percent.

If we take an example of $3,000 which is the average student debt and pay off four percent each month, it will take 11 years to pay of the balance and cost $1,715 in interest. That’s more than half the original debt. I used the calculator at!

Credit cards are wonderful financial tools, tools that can improve our financial lives and make them easier. But carrying that debt month to month limits what you will be able to do in the future. If you find yourself in over your head with credit card debt you will need to rethink spending habits. Getting out of debt and paying off the credit card in full every month can save you thousands of dollars over time. Dollars you can use to meet your other goals.

So even paying just a bit more each month has a huge impact on the balance and, of course, not charging anything else on the card that you can’t afford.

Will Rogers once said if you find yourself in a hole quit digging!


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