Gephardt Busts Inflation: How to tackle credit card debt

Apr 3, 2023, 11:32 PM | Updated: 11:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Reaching a record $930.6 billion, credit card debt in America has never been higher. Balances are well above what they were before the pandemic hit. The double whammy is the interest rates on those balances are going up, too. So, how do you get a hold of that debt before it breaks you?

In those heady days of the pandemic — all that not going to concerts, not eating out at restaurants, and not taking trips — saved us a whole lot of money. But when the world re-opened, all bets were suddenly off, said certified financial planner Shane Stewart of Deseret Mutual Benefits Administrators.

“We felt like we deserve to get out and about, and unfortunately, for some, that included some increased debt,” Stewart said.

So, how do you tackle that debt? Stewart says start by tracking what you are actually spending.

“Without knowing that, you’ll just be in a debt cycle,” he said. “You’ll just continue to go around in circles with your debt because you don’t know what the cause of that is.”

Money apps like Mint, Goodbudget, or Nerdwallet can help you see exactly where your cash is going and where you can cut back.

Stewart said have an emergency fund to help keep an emergency from derailing your debt plan. And then you can start your actual attack by paying the most you can on the smallest debt first, while you make the minimum payments on the rest. Once that account is paid off, move on to the next smallest debt until that one is paid off — and on and on.

Stewart said the endorphin rush that comes with each debt paid is powerful.

“It motivates you to take that money that you were paying to the first debt and put it towards the second debt,” he said.

Or you might start on the debt with the highest interest rate, then work your way down. That can save you hundreds on interest, but Stewart says that method typically delivers less of an endorphin rush. But if this strategy motivates you, go with it.

“Whatever works for the individual is king,” Stewart said. “Whatever works for you is the best thing to do.”

The best way to stay on track? Stewart said: automate, automate, automate. Set up your bank’s bill pay or an app to make automatic payments on your debts.

“Then you’re not making that decision literally thousands of times over your lifetime,” he said. “You’re making that decision one time and then you maintain that. You tweak it as you go.”

Stewart said you must be proactive. If you are not going to make next week’s payment, call your creditor now rather than two weeks later. The absolute worst thing you can do is nothing. That stack of credit card bills will only get worse.

Get Gephardt

Harold Clements is one of many T-Mobile customers who say they were told upon signing up for servic...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Roy man says mobile carrier has hiked his rate in spite of ‘price-lock’ guarantee

A Roy man is one of many T-Mobile customers who say they were told upon signing up for service that their phone rates would not go up. Ever. But when the rates did go up, Harold Clements decided to turn to KSL Investigators for help.

5 days ago

Jordan Lee says about a half-dozen medical test results suddenly have appeared on his patient accou...

Matt Gepahrdt and Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt helps Utahn billed thousands for medical tests he says he never got

When a West Point man discovered he was on the hook for charges for medical tests he never got, he decided to turn to KSL Investigators for help.

6 days ago

FILE - Vehicles move along Interstate 76 ahead in Philadelphia, Nov. 22, 2023. The energy used by c...

Matt Gephardt

Rising costs of insurance and other travel expenses has majority of drivers reconsidering summer travel plans

It's Summer road trip time, which this year is more expensive for drivers than it has been in the past.

12 days ago

The odds are nearly one-out-of-two that a homebuyer will have at least one regret about their purch...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

Half of homebuyers experience remorse. Here’s how to help avoid regrets about your new home

The odds are nearly one-out-of-two that a homebuyer will have at least one regret about their purchase, that's according to a new study by Bankrate. Gephardt finds out how you can avoid homebuyers remorse.

13 days ago

There is a hot debate on self-cleaning. Proponents say it’s safe and works well. Critics claim it...

Matt Gephardt

Self-clean or self-destruct? Utah woman says oven feature left her with a hefty repair bill

A Mountain Green woman asked Matt Gephardt to investigate after she says the self-cleaning feature damaged her two ovens.

18 days ago

People who live in a West Jordan neighborhood near 7200 South and 2300 West have been missing out o...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt helps West Jordan neighborhood’s mapping issue on Google Maps

People who live in a West Jordan neighborhood near 7200 South and 2300 West have been missing out on packages because Google Maps sends drivers to the wrong place.

19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Gephardt Busts Inflation: How to tackle credit card debt