Average Credit Card Debt in New Jersey is $9,000
A new report by ChamberofCommerce.org finds the average New Jerseyan is close to $9,000 in credit card debt and more than $11,000 in total interest paid. In a high-cost state like New Jersey, experts say it can be tough to stay out of debt but there are ways.
Maury Randall, finance professor emeritus at Rider University, said the first thing to do when tackling credit card debt is to examine how much a person is spending. Cut back on costs when possible. That could mean cooking more at home, cutting back on vacations or if need be, saving rent by moving in with family for a while.
Getting a part-time job to make some extra money may also help.
But he said when a person is in credit card debt, he or she is in bondage because the interest rates are exceedingly high. If a person can save more money and put more than the minimum payment down, that would help, otherwise it's going to take a long time to pay off.
Randall said if a person cuts back on spending, that will free up more resources to help pay off the debt and get out of the bondage. If a person can find another source of funds that is less expensive than the credit cards, then that could help lower the interest expenses.
He said it is very difficult to cut back and adapt to a less lavish lifestyle especially for people living in expensive states like New Jersey. So Randall suggested making a negotiation with a credit card company. Sometimes a company will work with someone in debt to help lower payments every month.
Randall said the bottom line is to try not to get into a credit card debt situation. If you already are, try to get out of it. If you can't, try to negotiate with the creditor.
Try paying with cash whenever possible. Paying with cash forces a person to not spend beyond his or her means.
Randall stressed that paying off a credit card balance is critical. Many people opt for the minimum payment, which only adds on interest fees. He said if there's extra money in a savings account, use it to pay off the balance.
"If you can afford to pay more than the minimum, do it. Pay down the balance. That's the whole key thing. Pay down that damn balance," said Randall.