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To many Florida residents, it might seem logical to use a windfall or inheritance to pay off or make a big dent in credit card debt that is racking up interest charges each month. Unexpected financial challenges can pop up at any moment, and doing the math makes paying off those balances seem attractive. However, it might be a better idea to refrain from throwing a large chunk of change at one’s debt.

There are really two rules for using credit cards and paying them off. Unless the problem of carrying high-interest debt is addressed and understood, it’s likely to recur. The first thing to do is stop using the cards, which may seem easier said than done. The cards make purchasing so convenient, after all, but consider using a debit card instead, and create a PayPal account for online purchases.

Second, it’s good to look at the root of the problem and find out how the debt got so high in the first place: Is there a high rent to pay or student loans that leave very little spending money? If that’s the case, it may be time to look for ways to reduce overhead. Credit cards make it easy to spend more than what comes in every paycheck. Study expenses carefully and reduce or stop the coffee runs and lunches out. There are also tools that track spending trends that may be useful.

Credit card debt can become overwhelming very quickly. If pay-off techniques aren’t lowering the balance, it may be time to allow a bankruptcy attorney to review the case. The attorney may be able to help the consumer negotiate a one-time lump sum payment or recommend which chapter of the Bankruptcy Code best meets the individual’s needs.

Source: Forbes, “When Not To Pay Off Your High-Interest Credit Card Debt“, Nancy Anderson, October 11, 2013