Paying Down Debt

January 25, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Maybe you're finding that your holiday debt is a bit more than you anticipated. Joan Jensen, president and CEO of Central Credit Union of Illinois, came into our ABC7 Eyewitness News studio to share a "SMART" approach to dealing with the bills.

Joan's SMART Tips:

1. Start with a List
- credit card bills
- balance due
- payment due date
- interest rate for each card balance

2. Make the Payment(s)
- pay at least the minimum payment on time
- apps help users avoid late payments: Bill Tracker (Apple), Bill Reminder (Android), Manilla (both)

3. Account for Interest Rates
- pay off your bills as quickly as possible with the least amount of interest
- tighten your belt

4. Restructure Debt
- determine if you can consolidate your debt at a favorable interest rate
- one monthly payment makes paying down the debt easier
- if you can't consolidate all the debt into one payment, consider consolidating only the highest interest rate debts
- compare credit card interest rates, balance transfer choices and other credit card alternatives at

5. Think through the Options
a. Balance Transfer
b. Personal Loan
c. Home Equity

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