Q. As a single father, I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep debts under control, particularly the credit card debt. I owe about €7,000. I have already topped up the mortgage – now no longer available – in the past to pay off these debts and now find myself back in the same position. Any ideas ? Terence – Clontarf Dublin 3

A. The good news Terence is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This problem can be easily remedied by putting yourself on a strict budget. The bad news is that you will have to put yourself on a strict budget. Not using your card anymore is normally the first step towards paying them off. Most people who are in credit card difficulty use their cards to the limit of their credit, pay the minimum each month, and then spend up to the limit again until they get their next bill.  If you must keep your one, use it only in the knowledge that when the bill comes in 30 days later, you will have sufficient funds to pay the bill in its entirety. Credit cards lull us into a false sense of security that does not exist with cash. If you are only paying the minimum each month, it will take you up to 20 years to clear the debt ! You should impose a strict budget on your household expenditure and don’t spend money on anything that is not essential. When cabin fever sits in, why not visit a friend’s house or a trip to the cinema – budgeted of course.  After you stop spending, you need to start paying. Pay off as much as you can afford. You could transfer your balance for 12 months at 0% to another card provider (An Post Money) and give yourself a breather while those with serious card problems could contact a MABS office or (see banner at bottom of page ) Obtain good advice – budgeting is essential and is a MUST for all of us.


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