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Planning your financial future

Maintaining control of your household budget

Financial emergencies happen, but how you handle them can determine whether you can keep your finances in check or create unnecessary stress.
It can happen to the best of us. There's an unexpected medical bill, a house or car repair that puts an immediate demand on an already stressed household budget. To meet your needs, you set aside one bill to pay another, filling in the gaps by charging expenses that you know won't be paid off at the end of the month.

Unfortunately a molehill of credit card debt can quickly turn into a mountain if you don't recognize the warning signs. If this happens to you, the most important thing is to stay the course and try to get back on track - no matter how out of control the situation may seem. Here are three signs that may be the “red flag” warning you need to get your household budget back on track.

You don't have a payoff date

Credit card debt can easily spin out of control if you don't have an idea of when you'll be able to pay back your debt. By setting some type of payoff date, you're actually setting a timeline for yourself to meet. This can give you some peace of mind knowing that you have an attainable goal that'll get you that much closer to being debt free.

You only pay the minimum amount due

Paying the least possible amount on your credit cards is a lot like going nowhere fast. If you find that you are continually paying only the minimum each month, you'll need to get your balance under control. Start small by committing to an extra five dollars or rounding off to the nearest hundred, you'll find it easier to recover from potential spiral.

You've quit saving to pay down your credit card debt

It may seem impossible to save when you have lingering credit card debt, but everyone should be saving something. At the very least, try putting a few bucks in a type of emergency fund. This way, you can continue to chip away at your debt, while establishing a readily available source of cash when you need it.

Finding your way out of credit card debt may not be easy, but it's certainly not impossible if you recognize some of the early warning signs. However, if you feel that you may need some help getting things back under control you may want to contact a reputable credit counseling service to explore your options.



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