MASON CITY, Iowa – A new study from CreditCards.com showed the average household in Iowa and Minnesota has more than $4,000 in credit card debt by year’s end.
Iowa Heartland Credit Union CEO Cindy Stephenson said the best way to prevent getting too far behind on credit card payments is setting up a monthly budget and sticking to it.
“You have to be responsible with that card. You truly do,” said Stephenson. “It’s so easy to use it but you have to come back to reality and say ‘I just cant go over this anymore, I have to pay down my balance and keep it reasonable’. Don’t go up to your limit, just don’t.”
Stephenson said a little bit of debt is OK because it affects your FICO score.
“But you cant have that much credit card debt, you have to learn to live within your means.”
Molly Schrade of Clear Lake said a reason a lot of people have credit card debt is because of how easy it is to purchase items online.
“You don’t realize you’re spending all this money and then you overdraft.”
Schrade said she only uses her credit card for big expenses such as the trip she is going on in January.She said anytime her credit card is used, there is a plan in place.
“When we get paid, we’ll put money aside at least of 10 percent of our check into the savings account so that way we are able to pay off credit cards,” said Schrade.
Schrade said credit card holders need to remember to not go over your balance and make payments on time.
“You don’t have to pay it all off in one big chunk but making sure you set up an alert, ‘Hey, this is when my credit card is due,’ so they don’t charge me more and put it on my credit card,” said Schrade.