Advice From the Field: Manage your credit card debt to keep finances in order

The best way to avoid debt is to be proactive about managing your money.

Avoiding debt requires you to establish a sound financial plan and steer clear of the foolish whims that bring short-term satisfaction, but long-term hardship on the bank account.

It’s easy to run up enormous amounts of credit card debt by purchasing things you really can’t afford. Americans owed $979 billion on their credit cards at the end of 2016, or about $8,377 per household.

It’s also commonplace to let student loans ($1.34 trillion owed), car loans ($1.2 trillion) or mortgage payments ($8.5 trillion) threaten your financial stability. After years of unpaid bills and inadequate resources, bankruptcy might be the only option.

Don’t go there.

Take a proactive approach and make better use of your time and money. That could allow you to pay for college, maintain steady employment, perhaps launch a small business and purchase a car or home without fear of them being repossessed or foreclosed. It pays to take some initiative, start early and protect your finances.

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