BOSTON (CBS) – According to Fidelity’s annual Financial Resolutions Study about 20% of those making financial resolutions are serious about paying off debt.

How much debt do you have? Work on your net worth statement. List all of your assets and then list all of the liabilities, your debts, then subtract the liabilities from the assets. Hopefully it is positive number. A negative net worth is an indication of really big trouble.

Make a detailed list of your debt, creating a spreadsheet. You can do it with pad and paper but an Excel spreadsheet would be so much better. Start with your loans such as the mortgage, car, and school. Then list your credit cards and in separate columns list the interest rate and how much you owe.

Usually it’s the credit card debt that is weighing you down. Next, get copies of your credit reports and scores. Correct any mistakes and begin the process of improving your credit score.

Contact each of the credit card companies and ask them to lower the interest rate on your credit cards. If you get nowhere with the first person you speak with ask for their supervisor. Explain that you are planning to move your debt to a lower interest card and wanted to give them the chance to match the lower rate. They don’t want to lose you as a customer.

Begin to pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate aggressively. If you have cards with small balances pay those off. If you have a card with a very low interest rate consider transferring your balance from your other cards to that one. Check if there is a transfer fee before you move your balance.

Always pay your credit card bills on time. Those late fees can be crippling. While you are paying down your debt try not to put any more debt on any of your cards. You want to get to the point where you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

If you cannot do this on your own consider using the National Foundation for Credit Counseling 800-388-2227 or www.nfcc.org for more help.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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