You might have credit card problems if...
By Ben Woolsey
Credit card debt is a serious problem for many Australians, though many don't seem to heed the warning signs as the problem grows. And, for some, a simple balance transfer to a zero-percent or low-rate credit card might not be enough to solve the problem and permanently eliminate credit card debt. Some fundamental changes need to take place to create lasting financial health, and that often involves professional debt counselling.
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This topic can be quite timely after the holiday season, when so many Australians go on a credit card bender in December and January, waking up in the new year with a massive bill to pay. If any of the following things describe your credit card situation, you may want to consider getting some advice from a financial counsellor:
- You are only paying the minimum amounts required on your accounts, or perhaps even less than the minimums
- You have maxed out more than one of your cards and desire even more credit
- You consistently charge more each month than you make in payments
- You're robbing Peter to pay Paul -- in other words, applying for another credit card so you can use cash advances from it to pay an existing card
- You're not sure how much you owe and would prefer to avoid the topic entirely
- You buy necessities like food and petrol with credit cards because you don't have the necessary income or savings
- You're eating into everyday or retirement savings to pay your monthly credit card bills
- You're hiding the gravity of the problem from your partner or spouse
- You sign up for every new credit card offer that hits your mailbox
- You have more credit cards than slots in your wallet
The start of the new year is a great time to resolve to get back in shape, both physically and financially. Most of us can go the self-help route when we get overextended and get things back under control. But as with those who need a little extra motivation and guidance from a personal trainer, a little professional advice can go a long way.
Many debt counselling services options are even free, such as the Rural Financial Counselling Service offered in major rural centres by the Department of Agriculture or in major cities by various state government Financial Counselling Services and some major charities.
If you see yourself described in any of the top 10 warning signs above, you might want to consider a little financial makeover so you can begin living without the albatross of credit card debt in the coming years.