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How I Went Bankrupt at 23

For as long as Amanda Chatel could remember, her dad had warned her about the dangers of credit cards. Then she got to college and began ignoring those warnings -- repeatedly.

How I Paid Off $27,000 in Credit Card Debt in Two Years

Getting your finances under control on a tight budget is hard, But as Dana Burgess shows, it can be done. Here's how she racked up $63,000 in credit card debt, how she's digging her way out, and how she learned to enjoy living on less.

Debt Confessions of a Former Priest

When he left the priesthood in 2001, he was deep in credit card debt. He dug himself out eventually, but looking back he marvels at how easy it was to get into such a desperate situation.

10 Smart Uses for Your Tax Refund

Tax refund checkBy Kimberly Lankford, Kiplinger


If you have a refund check coming your way, consider using it to bolster your personal balance sheet. The average...

What Blue States Can Teach Red States About Credit

It's not just politics that defines the differences between Republican-leaning "red states" and Democrat-leaning "blue states" -- and some of those differences may surprise you. For example, when it comes to credit scores, blue states are where the smart money is.

7 Small Mistakes That Will Hurt Your Credit Score

Most people understand that a bankruptcy or foreclosure will tank their credit score, but there are plenty of small mistakes you can make that will turn a good score into a mediocre one. Here are seven of the more common errors, plus tips on how to avoid them.

What Makes a Great Balance Transfer Credit Card?

If you're burdened by credit card debt, lenders want to help you -- by adding more plastic to your arsenal in the form of a balance transfer card, which offers generous up-front terms for moving your debt. And some of those offers are much more generous than others.

4 'Must Do' Money Moves to Achieve Fiscal Fitness

There are many roads to financial security, but whatever path you follow, there are some mandatory steps everyone ought to take along the way. Alexa von Tobel, founder of LearnVest.com, cuts through the thicket of advice to give us her essential keys to sound money management.

After Holiday Buying Binge Comes a Spending Diet

The holiday season was a heck of a party for retailers, but consumers are now nursing a shopping hangover that will keep them out of the nation's stores in January and February. "Now that those credit card bills are hitting mailboxes, shoppers will cut back in a very significant way," said Britt Beemer of America's Research Group.

Credit Card Use Is on the Rise

Credit cards are making a comeback. At the end of 2008, more consumers were using debit cards than credit cards but now that trend has reversed. It's hard for some consumers to resist: Banks have been ramping up solicitations and boosting incentives for credit cards over the past year in an effort to get them to choose credit over debit. But have the big banks changed their ways?

Financial Distress Is Rising Again, Report Shows

Americans' economic health appears to be edging closer to code red: The Consumer Distress Index fell sharply in the third quarter, indicating that more of us are falling behind financially.

A 4-Step Plan to Start Climbing Out of Debt Today

It can happen months, or years after getting your first credit card. One day you look at the bill, and even the minimum payment is almost out of reach. Years of purchases spell out what seems to be a lifetime of repayments and a small fortune in interest. Don't despair. You can climb out, step by step. Here's how.

3 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Finances After a Debt Storm

When you get deep into credit card debt, it can feel like you've been through a financial storm. That's the story for a social worker named Heather, who has $30,000 in credit card debt. DailyFinance's Laura Rowley looks at key steps to clear the debris from her path to a brighter financial future.

When Opening a No-Interest Credit Card Is a Bad Idea

While rolling your credit card debt onto a new card that offers 0% interest for a period of time is usually a smart money move, there are some people who shouldn't do it. This reader is one of them. DailyFinance's Laura Rowley explains why.

Money-Life Balance: What It Is and How to Get It

We're all know about work-life balance -- the idea of hitting that sweet spot where one's home life is rich and full, and doesn't collide with one's career. But how about money-life balance, when you can enjoy your earnings without racking up uncomfortable debt? Too few of us have that: Here are some tips on how to get it.

3 Ways to Make the Most of a Payroll Tax Cut

Although GOP senators have blocked action on Obama's $447 billion jobs bill, parts of it may yet get enacted, including an extension and expansion of a payroll tax cut that would put hundreds of dollars more a year in the pockets of ordinary American workers. Here are three smart ways for you to earmark that cash for your future.

What to Do When Credit Card Bills Devour Your Paycheck

Credit card debt is tough to avoid -- and tougher to escape. We received an email from a reader who owes $20,000 on her cards, and spends a third of her income on those payments. Credit expert John Ulzheimer offers a legitimate method for her to reduce monthly costs and get out of the red.

Jessica Chastain's Plastic Problem: 'It Girl' Lived on Credit

Jessica Chastain, Hollywood's latest "It Girl," still recalls the wise financial advice she received from veteran actress Cherry Jones back at Juilliard. And now she's trying to follow it, too. But for years, her financial plan involved roller coaster rides of credit card debt.

Paying Off Our Plastic Is Killing the Economy

Here's the good news: American consumers are finally starting to reduce their reliance on credit and pay off their high-interest debt -- a positive development for their financial futures. The bad news: More money in people's pockets means less overall spending in the economy, which desperately needs the cash right now. How might the tension be resolved?

Americans Ring Up 'Mind Boggling' Debt in Q2

Habits are hard to break: Just when you think you're firmly in control, you backslide again. According to CardHub.com, U.S. consumers accumulated a staggering $18.4 billion in credit card debt in the second quarter -- 66% more than they accumulated in the same quarter a year ago.

Waiting to Inherit: Not a Sound 'Financial Plan'

An estimated two-thirds of baby boomer households will receive an inheritance at some point, with a median amount of $64,000, according to an AARP study. I recently received an email from a reader who has fallen deeply into debt in anticipation of her legacy -- and is now worried that her bailout may not be at hand:

Learn How to Avoid a College Credit Card Catastrophe

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Hill Harper's 'Wealth Cure' for Owe-verwhelmed

"CSI: NY" actor and author Hill Harper dispenses can't-buy-happiness philosophy in his new book "The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in Its Place." It's a guide that doesn't promise to get you rich quick, but to quickly help your life get richer.

Are You Photoshopping Your Finances?

It's one thing to use Photoshop to make your waistline look slimmer in your snapshots. Many people also take a distorted view of their finances, fooling themselves about the health of their balance sheets. Here are some common self-deceptions.

How to Dig Yourself Out of Credit Card Debt

U.S. credit card debt shrank 5% in the second quarter from a year ago, approaching 10-year lows. It's not just due to banks, which have written off uncollectible debts. Consumers have been taking control of their finances, tightening their belts and working second jobs to pay off their credit card bills.

How Paying the Wrong Bills Costs You Money

Should you pay the last $100 on credit card with 10% annual interest, or $100 of a card with $1,000 and 15% interest? Paying off higher-interest card first saves you money, but consumers often choose to close out cards with the smallest balance anyway.

How Colleges Are Still Getting Rich Off Your Kids

For years, credit card companies have targeted college students to gain access to a lucrative source of profits: student debt. And despite laws designed to stop the practice, colleges and universities are still taking huge payments from card companies -- at your kids' expense.