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Life Lessons: Debt Don'ts

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 19 2013 04:26:37 AM CDT
Updated On: Apr 19 2013 07:45:27 AM CDT

Tips on how to keep debt in check.

Studies show many Americans have significant debt.

Between the mortgage, student loans, car loans and credit cards, debt can keep mounting which can get some families into trouble.

The latest numbers from the Federal Reserve show the average American family has credit card debt at more than $7,000.

Debt can be dangerous but there are a few things you can do to make sure your debt doesn't get out of control.

Here are a few tips from financial experts:

A credit card for food, one for air miles, another for points, using plastic when you don't have cash can add up to some real problems.

First off, it sounds tempting. Buy some clothes, sign up for a store credit card, and save money.

But if you don't pay it off at the end of each month, you'll pay interest on the entire amount you initially charged, often at a higher rate than a typical credit card.

One of the biggest debt don'ts? Just because you get married doesn't mean you have to take on your spouse's debt.

Although many couples do want to take on the burden together, the responsibility falls on the person who incurred the debt before marriage.

Beware of refinancing if it means you'll be responsible for someone else's debt.

Also, you will be responsible for any debt incurred after you wed, even if your name is not on the account.

Does a late credit card payment damage your credit score?

Although late payments can bring fees, experts say unless you're past 30 days late, it probably won't put a dent in your credit score.