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Terminate the debt monster
Attack credit card debt with a 30-month debt-management plan, advises radio personality Clark Howard.
Out of the red and into the black

Spotlight: Clark Howard

"I want it all ... I want it all ... I want it all ... And I want it now!" The refrain of this 1989 Queen rock anthem could easily be the unofficial theme song of the U.S. consumer. In reality, there's often a huge chasm between wanting it all and being able to afford it all -- and unfortunately, many Americans are discovering that pursuing an untenable lifestyle of material abundance often leads to a growing burden of debt and an uncertain financial future.

At a glance

"Indebtedness and the inability to save money, these two are tied together," says Clark Howard, nationally syndicated talk show host, author and consumer advocate. "And when you think about the fact that over three billion solicitations will be mailed this year for new lines of credit to consumers, it's no wonder that the availability of credit is so tempting and that so many people spend themselves into oblivion."

To get people thinking more seriously about debt and its consequences, Howard recently sat down with Bankrate and shared his thoughts about how the "debt monster" can be successfully attacked and ultimately eliminated.

Dealing with debt is a major challenge for many people. Probably the greatest challenge they have is too much credit card debt. It's tempting for many folks to consider debt consolidation. Is a debt-consolidation loan a viable option for those seeking a way to pay off credit card debt in one fell swoop?

Not really. It's been my experience that when people do a debt-consolidation loan, all they really end up doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. With one transaction, their credit card bills suddenly stop, and those people then say, "Oh, how nice, it's all so tidy now, I now just have everything on one convenient bill."

However, human nature being what it is, most of those very same people will then go and again charge their credit cards back up to where they had been. They'll then have those bills and the bill from their debt-consolidation on top of that, and then what they've created is actually much worse than the initial problem they had.

-- Posted: March 17, 2008
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