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29% interest rate

Question: I am rec'ing notices that my credit card rates are jumping to 29%. I owe about 35K. I tried to get a consolidation loan to pay them off and reduce my interest. Loan denied. I have no other obligations and work part time 30 hours a week as well as receive a pension of $2500 a month. I called the credit companies and asked for a reduced rate and was told I could pay off my balance and opt out of the cards but no reduction. What can I do short of declaring bankruptcy? John, Rome, NY

Answer: You're carrying a lot of credit card debt. The financial hole is only going to get deeper at a 29% rate of interest. That's a lot of vig. You need a plan.

I'd get help creating that plan. I would do is go online to the website of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. There are a couple of consumer credit counseling service offices near you. For instance, one is in Utica and another in Syracuse. I would schedule a meeting with a financial counselor to go over your finances and get their recommendation for a budget and a debt repayment plan. Neither office charges a fee for a consultation. There are small fees to pay if you decide to create a repayment plan with one of the services.

That's task number one and, hopefully, by going over your monthly income and monthly expenses they'll see ways of freeing up cash to attack the debt. They can also negotiate on your behalf with the credit card companies. It's a practical step toward getting rid of the debt--and the 29% loan shark rate of interest. Good luck.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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