Many facing mounting post-holiday credit card debt

MILWAUKEE -- Millions of Americans hit the malls during the holiday shopping season, and now that the holidays are over, and the new year has arrived, many are facing mounting credit card debt.

Financial experts say during the holiday shopping season, it's easy to run up a big credit card bill! For those who may have overspent this holiday season and are trying to dig themselves out of debt, Kathryn Crumpton with Consumer Credit Counseling has some tips. "First, make sure every charge on there is your charge, and everything is accurate on the bill. Also, take a look at the little honesty box on your statement. That will tell you if you pay the minimum payment, how long it's going to take you to get out of debt," Crumpton said.

Even though sale signs and deep discounts can be tempting, Ansaar Gandy says he has found effective ways to manage money during the holiday season. "As a consumer, I would say just putting a little bit here and there aside. Those things add up," Gandy said. Gandy said he's also found long-term solutions. "The best help over the years is pretty much paying (credit card bills) right away, versus letting them pile up, and definitely not paying the minimum on the interest. If you do have a credit card, just try to go ahead and knock the chunk out, and get it done," Gandy said.

Not every consumer is so careful. TransUnion reports the National Credit Card Delinquency Rate has increased in the third quarter for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2009. "Often, I have seen clients sitting in our waiting room with a box of bills, or a bag of bills that are unopened, and I know that they're hurting with that," Crumpton said.

Consumer experts say it's important to keep a close eye on finances, before it gets out of hand.

For more information on getting out of debt, visit the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Milwaukee's website.