Imagine this: You have $30,000 in credit card debt. What do you do?
That’s a situation facing many people across America — including Ben, 28. He made the mistake of using a credit card to pay for school — it seemed like the easiest thing at the time. The interest rate on the card is around 16 percent.
Ben has a degree in communications, but couldn’t find a job in his field. Now he works as a supervisor at a golf course for one of his jobs. He brings in about $40,000 a year.
“It was a foolish error, but it was at the time — I need to pay this, I need to pay this now,” he says. “I got myself in this mess, I want to get out.”
He has closed one credit card, but has others — with interest rates upwards of 10 percent. He doesn’t really have other savings and needs help.
Personal finance expert Liz Weston offers this advice: “Normally I say if your credit card and medical bills combined are half or more of your income, you need to be talking to a legitimate credit counselor, but you also need to be talking to a bankruptcy attorney.”
“You need to know all your options before you decide,” she adds. “You need to be realistic.”
One resource for those seeking credit counseling help: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling
For more of Weston’s advice, click play on the audio player above.