How to handle high credit card debt

Experts say financial literacy is key.

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For some people, credit card debt is a necessary evil. For others it's a crippling burden.

According to a study by Smart Asset, a personal finance tech company in New York, the average credit card debt for a household in Maine is $5,078. The study ranks Bangor 32 out of over 200 cities in the U.S. for highest revolving credit card debt. It also compares the average amount of credit card debt to average disposable income.

Kyle Casburn, Vice Chair of the Maine Credit Union League, believes some people may be crippled by debt due to lack of financial literacy.

"I would say that most folks -- probably four out of five -- have a pretty poor grasp of the basic financial concepts," Casburn said.

Casburn says some people may not have their priorities right.

"There are studies that show people spend more time planning their vacation than they do budgeting, which is sad," Casburn said.

To combat this trend the Maine Credit Union League started the Financial Fitness Fair. Once a year high school students from all over Maine attend one of several fairs, learning the basics of managing money.

Another organization geared toward teaching youth financial literacy Junior Achievers of Maine. It's a non-profit with hundreds of volunteers from many industries. President, Michelle Anderson says the goal is to teach children and teenagers workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.

Anderson says volunteers teach students from as early as kindergarten to as late as 12th grade. Volunteers work in the schools on a request-by-request basis.

Bangor Superintendent of Schools, Betsy Webb says programs like these are helpful, but adds schools should have a responsibility to do more with financial education.

"It sets them up for success," Webb said.

Students at Bangor High School are required to follow a Personal Learning Plan which teaches financial literacy all four years.

Webb also says parents should have these conversations with their teenagers now before they are adults.

Casburn gave these tips for shaving credit card debt faster and avoiding it altogether:

  • Pay debt with the highest interest rate first.
  • Make an extra payment when you can.
  • Round up a payment some months. For example, if your payment is $280 pay $300.
  • Pay off smallest debt first.
  • Build a budget and stick too it. Casburn says credit cards are not an excuse to live outside of your means.
  • Educate yourself and your family about the basic principles of finances.

 

 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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