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Two simple rules can help you control credit card debt

Credit cards are like very sharp, wallet-sized double-edged swords. On one hand, a credit card can be a real convenience or even a lifesaver in some situations. Unfortunately, their ease of use can also lead to running up large debts quicker than you realize. It doesn't take that much; a round of drinks for friends here and a few new shirts there, and the next thing you know you have run up a few hundred extra dollars on your credit tab.

And given that all of those purchases are subject to additional interest, it's easy to see how the average family in the U.S. has over $15,000 in credit card debt. Certainly, a credit card is a basic necessity, but you have to use it prudently if you want to receive its maximum benefit and not be saddled with excessive long-term debt.

So how can you keep your credit card from becoming an expensive burden? Well, the results of a study conducted by the Urban Institute found that there are two simple rules that can pay noticeable dividends.

First, it's a good idea to keep a little cash in your pocket and use it to make all purchases under $20.00. The second rule is to constantly remind yourself that interest rates can add a 20 percent increase in the cost of anything you buy with the plastic.

Both of these ideas can help control your debt, but circumstances can circumvent your best intentions, and there are situations where a credit card is the only option for getting what you need. And if you now find that it's all you can do just to keep up the interest payments and you are falling further behind every month, you may want to consider talking with a bankruptcy attorney who can help you set up an effective debt relief plan.

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