Not all the questions to Debt.com are easy to answer.

3 minute read

If you had $18,000 to your name and had a credit card debt of $16,000 would you pay off the credit card?

— Matt in Michigan

Are there any grants to help me get out of credit card debt?

— David from South Carolina

I have three debts of $17,300, $4,500, and $4,000. Which one should I pay off first?

— Paula in New Mexico

How can I pay off $63,000 in credit card debt when my income is now 30 percent less than when I accrued that debt?

— Michael in Maryland

[Debt.com founder Howard Dvorkin] Every month on Debt.com, I answer questions from our readers, but some questions lack key details that would lead me to give an informed answer.

Sometimes I get asked, “How can I pay off $20,000 in credit card debt?” — and that’s the whole question! The answer depends on so many other factors. How much do you earn? How much other debt do you have? What are your other major expenses?

When there are so many questions, you really need a one on one consultation — and that is what Debt.com is for!

Debt.com can connect you with a vetted agency, where you’ll get an analysis of your situation. I urge you to do this — because here’s the good news. Whatever financial crisis you face, trust me – many others have stared down the same problems. And even better, many have triumphed over them. Because help is available. Right here at Debt.com.

Howard Dvorkin answers…

Four years ago, I began answering reader questions here at Debt.com. The very first one pitted a husband against a wife over the issue of paying down a mortgage faster to save money. Along the way, I’ve answered questions on topics ranging from credit cards to student loans to identity theft. There have also been offbeat questions like, Can I shop for Christmas presents on Dec. 26?

Sadly, I get many questions I can’t answer — not because I’m stumped, but because I don’t have enough information. Several recent ones are above. While I can’t specifically help these individuals, I can give them all some good advice, which I’ll mention at the very end…

If you had $18,000 to your name and had a credit card debt of $16,000 would you pay off the credit card?

The simple answer is: No way. Of course, I don’t know what your monthly income is. That affects the answer. Also, do you own a home? Is it mostly paid off? While Debt.com warns against a home equity loan to pay off credit card debt, it is an option of last resort.

(As we’ve reported, “Using home equity means the financing is secured using your home as collateral. If you fall behind and default, you risk foreclosure. Increasing your risk to lose your home just to pay off credit card debt usually isn’t worth it.”)

Are there any grants to help me get out of credit card debt?

No. You might be thinking of federal student loan programs, in which the government offers several ways to reduce your payments. However, the government has no plans to do that for credit card debt.

I have three debts of $17,300, $4,500, and $4,000. Which one should I pay off first?

All other factors being equal, you should pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. That will save you the most in the long run. Whichever you pay off first, don’t miss any monthly payments. For a real solution, see below.

How can I pay off $63,000 in credit card debt when my income is now 30 percent less than when I accrued that debt?

I don’t know what your annual income is now, but unless it’s six figures, the answer is: You probably won’t be able to pay off this debt. For you and the others posing the questions above, the only truly helpful answer is credit counseling.

When you call a nonprofit credit counseling agency, a certified credit counselor will drill down on your personal situation and lay out all your options. Best of all, this debt analysis is totally free.

You might find that a debt management program will slash your monthly credit card payments by up to 30 or even 50 percent. You might even need to declare bankruptcy, which is scary, but there’s also counseling for that.

Here’s the big takeaway from today: Whatever your problem is, there’s an expert available to help you. It might not be me, if your question is too short — but it is someone here at Debt.com.

Have a debt question? Can’t find what you need to know? We can! Submit any debt or finance question you have, and we’ll tap a pro who will respond as quickly as possible.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC