Wall Street debt is one of the major culprits of the current market crash, says TheStreet.com columnist Doug Kass. And while Wall Street has spent beyond its means, Main Street hasn't exactly been diligent about keeping out of debt, either.
Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the personal savings rate has declined since the 1980s. Personal savings were a mere 0.2% of income in the first quarter and briefly dipped below zero three years ago.
Fact is, many consumers are spending more than they earn. But while getting out of debt can be difficult work, do yourself a favor by paring down how much you owe. Here are a few tips for reining in spending and digging yourself out of debt.
Talk to a debt counselor
Debt counselors can help identify problems in your budget that you may not have noticed. They can help you figure out which debt you should target first. And even if you aren't struggling, many counseling agencies offer budget counseling to avoid problems in the first place.Be aware that not all debt counselors are reputable. Some that claim to be non-profit, in fact, charge fees for services that consumers can perform on their own. To find a reputable debt-counseling agency in your area, search the National Foundation for Credit Counseling Web site under "First Steps."
When choosing a debt-counseling agency, make sure you find out ahead of time about their fees and services. Some agencies offer free counseling, while others charge a nominal fee -- often around $25 a month. You should never have to pay a fee in advance for a service, and the agency should have a variety of services available. For more tips on how to choose a counselor, check out these NFCC guidelines.