PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Savings rates increased and consumer debt plummeted during the pandemic but consumer experts expect a surge in spending and credit card balances for the rest of 2021.
Jennifer Myers knows how it feels to be riddled with maxed-out, high-interest credit cards.
For years, Myers says she led the good life. She and her ex-husband used plastic to pay for vacations and to purchase items such as high-end bikes and designer handbags.
Jennifer said her motto was: “If you want something just get it.”
That was until 2016 when she added up all the credit card debt and realized the family faced more than $100,000 in unpaid balances spread out over a dozen cards. With several of the cards carrying interest rates above 20%.
“I was in tears, I was crying,” Jennifer said.
She tried negotiating down the interest rates on her own but was turned down. That’s when she heard about the non-profit Money Management International.
The company says it is able to consolidate consumer debt without putting consumers into a new loan. Money Management International offers free counseling services but there is a charge for a longer-term debt consolidation plan.
A spokesperson told ABC Action News they often negotiate its clients' credit card rates down to around 7%.
In Jennifer’s case, the non-profit put her on a five-year plan to pay off her debt. Last month, four and a half years after she signed up for debt help, Jennifer made the final payment on what was a $100,000 credit card balance.
"How does it feel?" asked Taking Action For You Reporter Jackie Callaway.
“Oh, it's wonderful, wonderful, it's a whole burden lifted off me,” she said.
It can take decades to pay off a high-interest card making minimum payments. You can try negotiating down interest rates on your own which will make the debt payoff go faster.
Also, experts highly recommend using a simple and free budget tool like www.everydollar.com so you can see exactly where your money is going, cut out wasteful spending and pay down debt.