Region's credit card debt high on U.S. list

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you have credit card debt, you're not alone. A new list ranks the Richmond area's credit card debt among the highest in the nation. The average balance at the end of last year was almost $5,000. That lands the Richmond-Petersburg area at number nine on the list!

Good news may have brought about this bad number. One credit counselor told NBC12 a lot of Richmonders are returning to work. Now that they have a regular paycheck, they feel more comfortable carrying balances on their plastic.

We've all had the same thought as Timothy Hill.

"When you don't have enough cash you can always use your credit card," he explained.

Many of us have probably done this--"I would just pay basically the minimum balance," Hill admitted.

According to Experian Information, that's led a lot of Richmonders to a stunning realization.

"When I actually realized how much I actually spent after they were putting fees on it, I couldn't believe it was that much," Hill said.

He only had two credit cards and racked up more than $1,000 in debt. Experian Information said at the end of last year, the average credit card balance in Richmond was $4,771.

Clearpoint Financial's Jonathan Gedeon said Hill's mistakes can lead to a slippery slope. So NBC12 compiled some tips to get out of debt faster.

"Always try to make more than the minimum monthly payment," Gedeon said. "They should try to make as much of a payment as they can afford."

Also, take a look at your budget; little things add up. See if you can cut down your cable and Internet bills or switch to a cheaper cell phone plan, so you're putting less on plastic each month.

"See what you have coming in," Gedeon advised. "What income you have, what your expenses are, write it all down. If it's a periodic payment, average it out over 12 months so you can plan."

Hill figured out a payment plan with his credit card company. The experts want you to know, the hard work doesn't end there.

"Take the funds that you had been applying to your payments to creditors and put those into a savings account," Gedeon explained.

He also said you can use the extra cash in that savings account to make your purchases and avoid getting back into the cycle of credit card debt.

For other tips from Clearpoint Financial, click here.

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