New Year's resolutions

Dvorkin On Debt: The Only Resolution That Matters

New Year’s Eve is Friday, and many of us will make resolutions to improve in the new year. These will be earnest as the clock ticks till midnight and the ball drops in Times Square. As the days pass, however, our resolve will dissolve.

As reported this time last year, only 8 percent of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. Those fall into two categories: health and money. So we resolve to lose weight and exercise more, just as we resolve to save more and spend less.

Sadly, 92 percent of us will fail. If you want to improve your odds, there’s one resolution you need to make, and it’s a simple one: Make a phone call.

It’s in the cards

I’ll make a bold prediction: No resolution can succeed if you’re drowning in credit card debt.

An NBC news reporter interviewed a financial expert in Portland, Oregon, recently. She offered five tips for keeping “financial resolutions” — and two of them were “build a cash cushion” and  “save for retirement.” Buried in the middle of the list was “pay down credit card debt.”

How are you supposed to save cash unless you pay down the credit cad debt first? The interest you make on your savings will be gobbled up by the high interest rates on your credit cards — which reports is averaging 15 percent on an average balance of nearly $5,500 per person.

So you need to resolve that debt before you can possibly meet your other financial resolutions. However, I’ll take it one step further: If you don’t lower your credit card debt, you won’t lower your weight, either.

How can I draw a straight line from credit lines to waistlines? Simple. In more than two decades of counseling individuals and families on their finances, I’ve seen debt wreck more than bank accounts. The stress of debt can lead to destructive coping mechanisms like overeating, drinking, and even depression. Practically speaking, if you’re in debt, you can’t afford to join a gym or even buy running shoes.

About that phone call

That financial expert who simply suggested “pay down credit card debt” is correct but not telling the whole story. How do you find thousands of dollars to pay off those credit cards? With those high interest rate and even higher penalties for missing a single payment, you’ll need to make the same New Year’s resolution for a decade before you catch up.

That’s why a call to is so crucial. We can introduce you to a certified credit counselor who will give you a free debt analysis. Depending on your circumstances, you might qualify for a debt management plan that reduces your total credit card payments by 30 to 50 percent, reduce your interest rate, and stop late fees.

So resolve to call 800-810-0989 and just talk. Do it today, and you can meet your New Year’s resolution before the new year even begins.

Howard Dvorkin is a CPA and chairman of, an educational resource for those who want to conquer all forms of debt in their lives.

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