With the holidays just around the corner, many Americans will be incurring more credit card debt buying gifts and gadgets at deeply discounted prices. No matter how low the sales price, however, it isn’t a good deal if you will be paying interest on your purchase for the next year. Instead, we urge our readers in Lane County who are struggling with credit card debt to resist using plastic to pay for holiday presents and use some of that holiday bonus to buy gifts; the rest can be used to pay down the balance.

Trimming expenses is another way to reduce credit card debt. If you are paying tuition for your children to attend private school, you may want to check into financial aid programs or consider enrolling your children in a reputable public school instead. Be careful where you reduce your expense, however. Financial experts recommend that you never reduce the amount of money you invest in a retirement plan if your employer is offering a company match; this is considered “free” money that you will need later in life.

If you are still having trouble making the minimum payments on your credit cards and other loan payments, you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. If you qualify for Chapter 7, you can discharge all of your credit card debt; with Chapter 13 you can restructure the debt to make the payments more manageable. An attorney can help you determine which is a better option based on your unique financial situation.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “How to pay down credit card debt,” Liz Weston, Nov. 24, 2013