Let's face it; credit cards have been fantastic sources of trouble for millions of consumers. Yet, ironically, without some type of credit, it becomes very difficult to purchase a home, a car or get a personal loan. It's a catch-22 situation in that your FICO score is, in part, determined by the amount of credit you have. The higher your score, the better positioned you'll be to acquire the credit you need to make large purchases. The equation is this: too much credit and you become a risk; not enough credit and you're still a risk. What can you do? Well, you might consider simply cutting up those credit cards and paying only with cash.

If this sounds like a radical course of action, perhaps it is. Consider the consequences, however, when you have multiple credit cards with high interest rates. Do you have trouble sleeping because the sheer burden of carrying so much debt keeps you up at night? If so, you're not alone. Statistics show that consumer debt is well over $2 trillion (yes, that trillion with a 'T'), and most households are carrying at least $9,000 in debt.

Between the credit card applications that arrive in the mail and the credit card machines that are located at every register in just about every venue, there has been both subtle and not-so-subtle marketing and manipulation by the credit card companies seducing you into thinking that it's better to use a card than to pay with cash. Think about it. With millions of websites offering every conceivable item you may ever need (and all of them requiring a credit card), it's no wonder that plastic has gone quite far in replacing the dollar bill.

Now, this is by no means meant to imply that there are not cardholders who use credit responsibly. But there are just as many individuals that have maxed out their credit limits and are now faced with the reality that these debts must be paid, one way or another. Declaring bankruptcy is an option; but not a very good one. Statistics assert that people that have filed for bankruptcy are more likely to begin their original debt-cycle all over again.

If you're in debt, your most prudent course of action may be to cut up all of your credit cards except one. Keep that one card in reserve to be used only for extreme emergencies. Next, pay off the highest-interest-rate card first (double the monthly payments if you can). Then, proceed to pay off each subsequent credit card using the same method. Try calling the card companies and ask to have the interest rates lowered.

Make a promise to yourself that from now on, you're going to pay for your transactions only with cash. If you don't have the money, then just don't buy it. Create a monthly budget and stick to it. If you have to, put your one remaining credit card in a safe deposit box or give it to a family member to hold onto. The less temptation you have to use credit, the better. Eventually, you'll thank yourself for such 'radical' actions, especially when you realize that they've been instrumental in saving and recovering your financial health.

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