Living within your means can be done. You don't want to be a slave to the credit card company, do you? Learn what to do to stay out of credit card debt.
Step 1: Calculate monthly expenses Calculate your monthly expenses--right down to how much gum you buy--and compare that with the money you have coming in.
Step 2: Scale back If your expenses exceed your income, see what you can live without. Keep slashing away until you have enough to live on, plus at least $50 a month you can put aside for unforeseen emergencies.
TIP: Don't forget to factor in periodic expenses like birthday gifts, haircuts, and school supplies.
Step 3: Cancel your cards Cancel all your credit cards except one. Tuck that away for emergencies.
Step 4: Set low limit Ask the credit card company to set a low limit on your card.
TIP: Throw your change into a jar every night; when the jar is filled, put the money into a savings account.
Step 5: Use debit card or cash Use a debit card or cash to pay for all purchases.
Step 6: Find extra work If a large unexpected expense throws off your budget, consider taking on part-time work or odd jobs like babysitting until you're caught up.
Step 7: Celebrate Now celebrate your freedom from debt--but not so much that you end up back where you started!
FACT: The average American household has $9,000 in credit card debt.