UNITED STATES—Debt it is the one thing that many Americans suffer from and it is something that can be quite debilitating at times. You stress about it, it causes you to have sleepless nights, creates tension at work and just prevents you from having that inner peace that you desperately crave. However, when it comes to debt it’s important to not allow it to control or dictate your life, grab it by the horns and create a plan to best attack it. First, it might be the toughest thing you do, but you have to know all the debt you have and what it is that you owe. Once you have an idea of how much debt you have, then you can decide how to best tackle it.

Next, look at your interest rate on your credit cards or store department charge cards. Those store department cards are the worst because they lead you to paying a lot more interest and those higher rate cards you want to tackle first because the sooner you knock that interest rate down, its money you can now use to pay off other debt that you have. Heck that interest on 1-2 of your credit cards could be used to pay a monthly expense you have that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I’m a firm believer that you DON’T need department store or retailer credit cards. Why? If you have a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express, most are accepted at most places you shop, so it begs the question of rather you actually need those department store cards, and the answer is NO! So eliminate that debt first if you can. If not, go with your highest credit card and the one that leads to you paying the most when it comes to your interest rate.

That is going to help you save more money along the way. With that said, it now becomes important to realize that if you’re attempting to pay off debt, you CANNOT use your credit cards. You cannot get out of debt if you keep creating debt. So you have to lock those cards away and ONLY and I mean ONLY use it if it’s an absolute emergency and you are in need of the card.

Once you see that a system has started to develop where you are knocking that debt down, keep that formula going moving forward until all the debt has been eliminated. It is not something that will happen overnight, but once you see the debt being chipped away you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Do not cancel those cards once you pay them off. Let the card if you choose to never use it again, let the card close itself out. By closing an account it can inversely impact your credit score which is never a good thing America.

Once that debt you’re close to having all paid off, do NOT be tempted to open any more accounts. I always think it’s crazy when people have 10 or more credit and department store cards. I can understand having a Visa, MC, Discover and Amex, but having 2-3 of each and then a ton of department store cards is just crazy in my opinion, that debt will just add and add and add until you feel like you’re drowning and there is nothing you can do to recover.

Debt can be overwhelming and for so many Americans it can feel like at times there is no escape, but there is an escape you just have to create a plan and focus your energy on knocking that debt down the best way possible based on your budget and finances.

Written By Jason Jones