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The post-holiday credit card scare: what to do now that it's 2014

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the credit card dangers that loom over the holiday season. To be fair, the risks of credit card use are always there -- but they are amplified around the holiday season. There is pressure to get the perfect gift for your loved ones and family members, and you have to have it now. A credit card makes it easy to fulfill this notion, as consumers whip out their credit cards and swipe away without fully thinking through how all these holiday purchases are going to affect them in a few weeks.

Now, here we are: the holidays are over and people are starting to bury their faces in their palms after taking a glance at their credit card balance. Credit card debt currently is the #2 source of debt for Americans ($800 billion), with student loan debt ($1 trillion) being the only other source of debt to eclipse credit cards.

So for the many people in Pittsburgh -- or anyone around the state of Pennsylvania -- who are seeing that outstanding credit card balance for the first time and are feeling some panic, you need to take a deep breath. First of all, you are not the first person to go through this and, as the previous sentence mentions, there are many others in and around your neighborhood who are going through the same thing.

With that in mind, you don't want to bury your head in the sand. Simply ignoring your debt will only make matters worse. You could incur massive penalties for late fees, or take on huge amounts of interest. In addition, ignoring the issue often leaves people in a very bad position once they finally seek help to address their debt. Tackling the issue early on can save you a lot of stress and anxiety.

Source: Democrat and Chronicle, "Debt hangover follows holiday fun," Tom Tobin, Dec. 24, 2013

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