As holiday bills finally arrive,
dig out from debt avalanche
Some people experience the bill-paying blues after a holiday season of warm memories, but cold credit-card debt.
Here are four ways to get out of the red this year, courtesy of the personal finance website Planwise.com and Howard Dvorkin, who started Fort Lauderdale-based Consolidated Credit Counseling Services.
• Start making a list of all credit-card accounts, their balances, payment due dates, credit limits and the minimum payments due each month. “Not only does this keep things organized but it prevents bills from being late or unaccounted for,” Dvorkin said.
• Develop a plan to pay back. Look for ways to shave expenses to set aside an extra $50, $75 or $100 a month to pay down your holiday debt, Dvorkin said. “There are always ways to cut monthly expenses,” said Vincent Turner, founder of Planwise.com. Take your lunch to work or enjoy free entertainment, such as a walk in a park, Turner suggested.
• Pay the highest interest rate debt first to cut your interest costs down, both financial experts recommended. Start by paying as much as you can, while making sure you pay at least the minimum required on your other credit cards.
• Go on a pay cash diet, taking cash out of the ATM for your spending, to help you avoid impulse buying with a credit card, Turner said. It will also help you budget your needs.
— Donna Gehrke-White
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
Hints from Heloise:
Mother of three children uses notebook to organize
R.M. of Roanoke, Texas writes: “With school and three children, I’m busy. I let my kids pick a notebook and told them that all important papers, schedules, items that need our signature and sports information go in that notebook.
“I use page protectors so they can slide the paper into the notebook. Each night before my husband or I go to bed, we look through the book to see if there is anything we need to address. This is going to make things so much easier for me!”
— King Features
Take these emergency steps
after witnessing an accident
You’re just witnessed an accident. There’s no one else around. What do you do? Here are recommendations from AAA Traffic Safety and the California Highway Patrol:
• Pull off the road, out of the way, turn off the engine, turn on your flashers, extinguish smoking materials, grab any road flares in your car, and exit your vehicle. Stop far enough away to allow emergency personnel to respond.
• Don’t get too close until you are confident it is safe to do so. Look for hazards such as smoke, fire, downed power lines or the smell of gasoline.
• Call emergency services. Give the dispatcher information such as location, number of vehicles involved, known injuries and details.
• Only if it’s safe: Place warning flares or reflective triangles several hundred feet in back and in front of the crash site to warn approaching drivers. If you believe it is safe to approach the victims, try to keep them calm, let them know that help is on the way, but never try to move them.
• When emergency responders arrive, follow their instructions, answer any questions, and do not leave until they tell you to do so.
— William Hageman