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Study: Women are dealing with more debt

February 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Some people just know how to handle money better than others. But it seems in particular, women in the U.S. are dealing with an increasing amount of debt these days.

It was trouble for Mary Reid. In 2004, she was nearly $10,000 in debt thanks to a pair of credit cards.

"I don't see how I'm going to make it with this, with the interest rate as high as it is," said Reid.

A new study shows women carry more debt now than in 2008. And the percentage of women with more than $50,000 in debt grew 12 percent from 2007 to 2010. Mary's creditors were calling non-stop.

"It is tough," said Reid. "And they say 'You got to pay it, you got to do what you can,' and I say, 'I'm doing what I can.'"

"We hear frustration. We hear desperation," said Billie Passmore from the non-profit In-charge Debt Solutions. Passmore has three tips to keep people in-the-black this year.

"They have to be willing to be disciplined enough to get out of debt and realize that it's not going to happen overnight," said Passmore. Commitment is crucial. On average it takes three to five years to climb out of debt.

The second tip is to make a budget. Experts say 30 percent of your income should go to your home and debt combined.

Finally, the number one sign you're in credit card trouble is if you're paying just the minimum every month.

"You know what it is," said Passmore. "This is a nation of 'buy now, and pay later.'"

Mary used to think that way, but after sticking to her plan for six years she's now debt free.

"I learned to budget myself with the amount of money I get a month," said Reid. "Which is not very much, but I learned not to go overboard."